Did You Know: Pad Thai Is Not Actually A Thai Dish

It was invented by the Chinese.

Cover image via John Aledia/Unsplash & Gareth Harrison/Unsplash

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Pad Thai, the beloved Thai noodle dish, is enjoyed by many across the world. What you might not know is that it isn't actually a Thai creation.

The yummy rice noodle dish we enjoy today was believed to have been invented by Chinese immigrants who travelled to Thailand in the 1930s to work as cooks and domestic helpers.

Drawing inspiration from chow mein, a classic Chinese stir-fried noodle dish, these immigrants adapted the recipe to cater to local taste buds. Today, it has become a beloved favourite for many.

The dish was originally called Kuey Teow Pad Thai, which translates to 'noodles stir-fried in a Thai way.' Over time, it was shortened to simply 'Pad Thai'.

But why and how did Pad Thai become such a popular dish globally? There's a fascinating reason behind its worldwide acclaim.

In the 1930s and 1940s, amid the challenges of World War II, Thailand grappled with a rice shortage. To tackle this, the Thai government ingeniously opted for a more economical approach — making rice noodles, which used only half the rice.

In an effort to reduce the country's dependence on rice, people were encouraged to consume more noodles.

During this time, the government also continued to promote Pad Thai as a way to enhance Thailand's reputation.

They gave locals a simple Pad Thai recipe and urged them to use wheeled food carts with built-in stoves to sell the dish on the streets. By the end of World War II, Pad Thai became a part of Thailand's national identity.

So, essentially, Pad Thai was transformed into a marketing campaign.

And it clearly worked.

Since then, Pad Thai has become a recognised and popular Thai street food dish enjoyed all over the world.

So, the next time you eat Pad Thai, perhaps you'll remember how this delicious noodle dish came to be. 

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