Most Thai food is highly spiced, chili hot, and varies from region to region. The traditional ingredients of Thai food have changed little up to the present day,
consisting largely of seafood, and locally grown vegetables and fruits, a diet common to most of the country. What gives the distinctive Thai flavor, and the
differing taste from region to region, are the carefully blended sauces and chilies. These go into dishes ranging from salty and bland soups to the spiciest
salads and sweetest desserts, often all present within a single meal. The wide variety of Thai food tastes is a reflection of the combination of influences
from various surrounding nations which, with Thai ingenuity, have culminated in one of the world's favorite cuisines.
The Northeast is famous for its spicy dishes, but it really covers all taste extremes, being also strongly sour and salty. Its most famous dish, a regional
staple that can also be found all over the country, is som tam, a Thai salad that simultaneously covers the four extremes of taste, and is eaten with a form
of sticky rice.
For those whose taste buds shy away from the grand taste of the Northeast, the generally milder taste of northern dishes may be more palatable.
The Burmese influence is present here, as several mild curries are integral to many of the dishes.
The cuisine of the Central Plains has over the years come to include the influences of all the surrounding regions, and a meal usually includes everything
from hot, spicy dishes to relatively bland ones. Here the sticky rice of the North is less common than plain rice, either steamed or fried. Many of the spicy
soups, like tom yam and popular coconut milk curries, have their roots in this region.
The proximity of India, and the religious Muslim influence have both shaped the taste of southern Thai cuisine, with the focus always on seafood and
vegetables, both in abundance in the region.