Or phad thai as it is sometimes spelled, a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chilli pepper, plus any combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts, coriander and lime. Pretty much THE national dish of Thailand, and darn tasty it is too.
The dish has been around for centuries. It is thought to have been brought to the ancient Thai capital of Ayuthaya by Vietnamese traders, but it was first made popular as a national dish by Luang Phibunsongkhram when he was Prime Minister during the '30s and '40s, partly as an element of his campaign for Thai nationalism and centralization, and partly for a campaign to reduce rice consumption in Thailand. The Thai economy at this time was heavily dependent on rice exports, and Phibunsongkhram hoped to increase the amount available for export by launching a campaign to educate the poor in the production of rice noodles, as well as in the preparation of these noodles with other ingredients to sell in small cafes and from street carts.
Following World War II there was a recession in Thailand, and the post-war government of Phibunsongkhram was desperate in its efforts to revive the Thai economy. They looked for ways to stem the massive tide of unemployment, and among the occupations the government aggressively promoted to give the populace a way to earn a living was the production of rice noodles and the operation of noodle shops. Detailed instructions on how to make the noodles and recipes were printed and distributed around the country. From these efforts, rice noodles became firmly rooted in the country and have since become a widespread staple food.
So there you have it, folks. History and food on the same page. There's a lovely Pad Thai recipe on the BBC's page.
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