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Central Region's Diet

Much of what we now know as Thai cuisine evolved from the central region. Rice, fish, and vegetables, flavored with garlic, black pepper, and fish sauce, along with an abundance of fresh fruits, comprises the basic diet of Sukhothai.

With the rise of Ayutthaya, other elements were added to the increasingly complex Thai blend. The fiery hot chili pepper, an essential ingredient now, was introduced at this time, along with the equally popular coriander, lime, and tomato. These may have been brought in from South America by the Portuguese, who opened relations with Ayutthaya in 1511 and also left a lasting imprint in the form of popular Thai sweets based on egg yolks and sugar.

Other ingredients came from India, Japan, Persia, and most important of all, China, though in almost every case their contributions were subtly altered and transformed to suit the Thai taste.

Unlike the north and northeast, where glutinous rice is popular, Central Thais like the fragrant plain variety. This is usually steamed but sometimes fried or boiled. In addition to freshwater fish, there is seafood from the nearby gulf, as well as a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits such as the like of mangoes, durians, custard apples, and guavas. Sino-Thai food is popular in places like Bangkok, particularly in the form of numerous noodle dishes.

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