Myanmar Traditional Food: 3 things you might not know about

Myanmar traditional food is something you cannot miss when deciding to take a trip to this spiritual country. Due to the diverse geographical features, favorable seasonal conditions, fertile soil and water resources, Myanmar boasts an abundant supply of food in a great variety all year around. There are five fun facts about Myanmar traditional food that you might not know about.

Four Popular Myanmar Traditional Food

Rice is among the main food in Myanmar, which comprises about 75% of the diet. Rice is often served with meat or fish, soup, salad and vegetables all cooked in their own ways, and some relishes to complement the meal.

Mohinga, or rice noodle served with fish soup, is the favorite Myanmar traditional food mostly enjoyed at breakfast or on special occasions.

Laphet or pickled tea leaves with a dash of oil and served with sesame seeds, fried garlic and roasted peanuts, is another popular snack typical of Myanmar.

Soup is mostly regarded as an indispensable component of a meal, possibly because Myanmar people do not normally drink wine or even a glass of water at meals, to allow the smooth swallowing of solid food. Good spicy soups not only facilitate the dining process but also stimulate the appetite of diners. Sometimes, when soup is not available at the meal and the dishes are too dry, a hot cup of green tea is served instead. There are four main types of soups: sweet broth, hot and spicy, sour, and bean soup.

Main dishes in a typical Myanmar meal can be classified as meat or fish, vegetables or salads, and some kind of soup. In the meat or fish category, dishes such as chicken, duck, pork, mutton, fish and prawns, and eggs cooked in water, oil and other spices.

How to Serve a Myanmar Traditional Meal

During meals, all the dishes are laid out on the dining table and served together so that diners can make their own choices and combinations. Although the dishes are prepared in a variety of ways, the most common method is to cook meat or fish in oil, seasoned with pounded onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, chili and spices, and simmer until all or most of the water evaporates. The essential and most popular condiment is a kind of relish made from preserved fish or prawn, served with chili powder.

Table Manners in Myanmar

The most commonly used tables in Myanmar are round and low and the diners have to sit on the floor or perhaps mat during meals. Even when the table is of the international shape and height mostly used among urban families and in restaurants, it should be small enough for the diners to reach all the dishes on the table. All Myanmar traditional food including rice is served simultaneously rather than course by course. There are no appetizers or hors d’oeuvre, and no wine or spirits served at the meal. All you can expect is drinking water, a juice or a cup of green tea.

When everything is served, people can start eating, taking small portions of dishes they like. Normally, Myanmar people eat with their fingers, but dishes are provided with serving spoons to be handles with the clean left hand. Soup is usually served in a single bowl for all the diners and is shared.

Forks and spoons, but not knives, are permitted and have become popular. The elderly and the guests are given priority by letting them take the curry first. Hosts can initiate meals by serving a spoonful of curry on guest’s plates after confirming if they would like the dish.

Diners intending on having another helping of rice, should leave some unfinished rice as a signal more is wanted. Rice and curry are to be eaten together rather than separately and soup can be taken at intervals. At the conclusion of the meal, deserts such as laphet, fruit or jaggery may be served along with water, green tea or juice.

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