Top positive review
5 people found this helpful
Pretty much the Larousse of Thai cuisine
on 21 May 2011
David Thompson's Thai Food is probably the most comprehensive guide you'll ever find to Thai cuisine. The author's passion comes through on every page, and Thompson really doesn't do things by halves. Rich with the history and culture of the country and the philosophy behind the preparation of a good Thai meal, this is a book I wish I'd read before visiting Thailand, rather than once I'd already fallen in love with the country and its food - I'd have eaten so much better while I was there, and yet what I ate out there was amazing!
Before we go any further, however, let's get one thing clear. If all you want to do is learn how to knock out a reliable Pad Thai, DO NOT buy this book. Buy something for a fiver that calls itself 'easy Thai cooking' or some such, because this book will absolutely not do that for you. This is very much NOT a book for the novice cook, but designed instead for someone who wants to explore the complexities of Thai cuisine beyond whether red or green curry is the hottest.
One of the most valuable things Thompson puts in the book is his section with suggested menus. Each of these has been perfectly balanced for taste, taking the guesswork out of things and giving you a fighting chance of creating something authentic from the very first meal you choose to make from the book. We've made several of the menus suggested and not once had a duff result, and things that perhaps didn't seem all that appealing when looked at individually - like quails' eggs braised with star anise - suddenly made perfect and delicious sense.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the ingredients lists can be quite intimidating, and much of what you need might require the presence of a good Oriental grocer nearby. That said, there are some excellent online retailers that will send you what you need, and while preparing the pastes can be time-consuming, the results are absolutely worth it. It's also worth noting that Thompson himself gives advice on suitable substitutions so that you don't have to be put off by the lack of one simple ingredient.
The absolute test of a good cookery book, for me, goes beyond how much I use it myself - and this one has stained pages aplenty - and into how many times I've bought it for other people. Thai Food has been happily received by friends and family on a few occasions now, and the reason I'm back on its page on Amazon today is so I can buy it as a present for yet another person!