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Sawasdee France

Thailand is well-regarded and famous for its food via food diplomacy as a soft power influencing tool. In fact, Thai food diplomacy has been around since the time of Ayutthaya kingdom whereby the Ayutthaya royal court provides supplies for foreigners during their journey. Food provided by His Majesty were breads, fermented fish, and dry foods, which can be stored for a long period of time.

Simon de La Loubère, the chief diplomat of King Louis XIV of France, was dispatched to Ayutthaya during the reign of King Narai to develop good diplomatic relationship and was also instructed to observe and record various aspects about the Ayutthaya Kingdom including the matter of food. These records were reported to King Louis XIV and are called Du Royaume de Siam.

Start from Rice

Simon de La Loubère reported that “we found our Ship's Crew express regret when we went back to eating dry bread after having eaten cooked rice for more than 3 months,” They seemed to be quite pleased with the taste of “steamed rice” in Thailand. He also described about Thai sauce. He mentioned that “The sauce is simple to make, with a little water and spices, garlic, onions, and some fragrance vegetables like holy basil. A type of liquid dipping sauce similar to mustard. It consisted of rotten prawns that were not properly fermented, called Capi, Which Claude Céberet du Boullay had received many jars from the Siamese, and they didn't have a strong stench.”

La Loubère brought these souvenirs with him back to Paris to tell his tale about the experiences that he and the French embassy had. In the memorandum, He mentioned a table of Siamese food in detail sufficient to conclude that Siamese foods were not extravagant.

The main source of food were rice and fish since Fish were abundant, However Siamese people did not like to eat raw fish, which most of them fermented or dried. This record had been published in French, English and translated into Thai. From this record it is suggested that the lifestyle, culinary and food diplomacy were great tools to present different aspects and was a soft power for the nation as well as to impress the western countries like France, which at that time had a much more luxurious lifestyle, to even mentioned the excellence of Thai food in their record and their royal court.

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