Many years ago (10yrs) I used to frequent Sukhothai in Zürich, a one star Michelin restaurant. I used to think of Thai cuisine as a novelty, and now I begin to understand it more. I guess the single greatest challenge is the use of fish given that the hygiene in markets is less than desirable. On top of it, the Thai people often eat river fish, and I am not a great fan of these types of fish or their diets.
I guess there are two types of people; city folk and jungle folk. I am city folk, so I am not used to the fanfare of the hot climate cuisine. I shutter each time I go into the Thai markets and the odor of shrimp pastes make me shut off. But I am fascinated by the ingredients and the freshness and variety.
The culture is very street yet jungle, while people sit around casually in bars and on sidewalks just enjoying life. I guess I was brought up around a table with western rules, despite the frequent yelling at the table.