‘SOMTAM’ PHENOMENA Global food with humble origins
‘Somtam’, Isan’s spicy raw papaya salad, can be found in the major capitals of the world. In one of London’s Michelin-starred temples of gastronomy, gourmet diners can even order somtam-type salads off the menu. A culinary inspiration to global fusion cuisine, somtam is one of Isan’s most successful cultural exports.
A product of Isan’s geographical deprivation, somtam takes plain old papaya, and mixes it with an indigenous flair for spice and taste. Sold by homesick Isan migrants to other homesick Isan migrants wherever they move, the fresh crunchy salad has seduced city folk around the world.
“In the past, if you wanted to eat somtam, you’d hide under the table and eat it, because Bangkok people would look down on you.”
H.E. Prachuab Chaiyasarn
Thai Trade Representative & former Deputy Prime Minister