The Thai can eat all day long – it would appear we do not stop. Throughout the day, various dishes placate any hunger. Unlike most traditional food, snacks are rarely prepared at home but are normally purchased from a nearby market or a wandering hawker.
Before the 19th century, food was generally prepared in households, although it might be eaten elsewhere, in paddies or on a rare journey. But whenever the Thai congregate there is food. In larger town, enterprising women began to set up the market stalls offering snacks to itinerant workers.
Later, as more people moved to the city, the demand became greater, although it was still mainly concentrated around the markets. Hawker soon left the market place and sought their customers elsewhere: on the canals, in the streets, in boats; with bamboo poles slung over their shoulders, and later wheeling their wares on carts. Originally such shops were makeshift, operating under the shade of a tree, with one or two specialties, but today they offer a huge array of dishes: curries, salads and stir-fries, prepared earlier and served at room temperature – fast, easy food that is delicious to eat and yet offers the possibility of full meals