vegan pad thai rice pasta with vegetables and tofu on gray concrete background with soy sauce and sesame oil
The Unexpected Origins Of Pad Thai
By Haldan Kirsch
As a result of the Thai government's initiative to train individuals on how to open their own restaurants abroad in the early 2000s, there's been no shortage of delectable Thai restaurants in major cities like Paris or Tokyo. However, their success stems from more than just training — with them came one of Thailand's most famous dishes: pad thai.
The popular dish resulted from a bloodless coup that installed Luang Phibunsongkhram, also known as Phibun, as the country's military dictator in 1938. Phibun wanted to create a strong national identity and ease the fear of famine, so he ordered the creation of a cultural dish that could help ration supplies and provide adequate nutrition.
Phibun took inspiration from home and began promoting a dish commonly served there, but the creator of pad thai remains unclear. Mental Floss states that the campaign slogan, "noodle is your lunch," was then introduced to help promote the dish, and the recipe was also spread among street vendors to promote it.
The campaign worked, and pad thai quickly became a popular dish associated with the new Thailand. The meal is an odd choice for a national dish as many of its ingredients come from other countries, such as stir-fried rice noodles, which would have been regarded as a Chinese invention.