A Retiring Attitude

 |  October 29, 2009

One major difference in the Thai and western culture is how each group entertains. I have been to many parties at Thai houses, but very few dinners. Entertaining a dinner guest at a restaurant is the norm. So when a western expat plans a mixed Thai and expat dinner party at home, remember that most Thais won’t have had much experience with this western concept. Here are a few suggestions.

Make it bilingual

In a mixed group of expats and Thais the conversation is invariably in English. Think how hard it is for your Thai guests to speak English for hours on end. Could you do that in Thai? So unless your expat guests are fluent in Thai or your Thai guests are fluent in English you may very well end up with two different parties, each group happily speaking their own language, but separately.

Homogeneous works best

Another thing that could break up a nice cohesive party in Thailand is mixing different ages and social statuses. An expat might find this a stimulating social mixture but here it would just produce a house full of uncomfortable Thai guests who aren’t used to this kind of mixing.

Let everyone know your kitchen rules

If a guest wanted to help in a western kitchen you would have to ask permission of the hostess first. But Thais consider food preparation a group activity. Be prepared for your Thai guests to walk into your kitchen and start chopping vegetables. The same goes for clean up. You could easily discover someone in your kitchen washing your dishes for you. If you don’t want anyone in your kitchen it is best to let people know that ahead of time.

Your choice of food is important

If you will be serving western food for dinner then you’ll be using a knife and fork. Understand that this might be new and a bit uncomfortable for some of your Thai guests who haven’t been to the west. If you opt to serve Thai food be aware that a Thai dinner is really not balanced unless there are at least three main dishes, a meat or fish dish, a vegetable dish, and of course a spicy dish. A one dish casserole or hot pot, fine for a western dinner, just wouldn’t be considered complete to the Thai palate.

Enjoy your dinner party and Bon Appétit.

For further information about retiring to Thailand check out Hugh’s site www.retire2thailand.com.

Hugh’s advice for the month: If you make a dinner date with someone for a certain time make sure they know whether you are talking about Thai Time or Farang Time. One is very different from the other.