A Brief History of Thai Food

Thai food may be associated with Thailand, but it is loved worldwide for being rich in history and flavor. The cuisine of Thailand is a merging of both Eastern and Western influences into something brand new, as you can see when you enjoy Thai food in New Jersey.

2013-South-Main1The origins of Thai food lie in the lifestyle of the Thai people, which was (and continues to be) closely to tied to the sea. Major ingredients included aquatic animals, plants and herbs, but large chunks of meat were rare, especially given the Buddhist influence on this cuisine. Generous portions of meat only came later as other influences contributed to the Thai food we know today.

Traditionally, Thai food was stewed, baked or grilled, but later Chinese influence introduced frying, stir-frying, and deep-frying. Starting around the 17th Century, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Japanese influence began to make its way into Thai dishes. Most notable was the introduction of chili peppers in the late 1600s by Portuguese missionaries who had acquired a taste for them while serving in South America. The Thai (then the Siamese) took these influences and put their own twist on them by changing cooking methods and substituting ingredients. For example, they replaced the ghee used in Indian cooking with coconut oil, and substituted other dairy products with coconut milk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThai food is known to be spicy, but in fact the spicing is toned down with fresh herbs like lemongrass and galangal, which can both ease yet enhance the spiciness of a dish. That is why Thai curries burn intensely but only briefly, while other curries will burn for a longer period of time.

Through all these influences, the Thai grew adept at mixing and matching various types of food. Typical Thai meals include a soup, a curry dish, and more. For the Thai, it’s all about the harmony of taste and texture!

For more on the wonder of Thai food, visit Siam Garden on Facebook!

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How Siam Became Thailand

We are called Siam Garden. We serve Thai food and tout the cuisine of Thailand. Confused? Don’t be. Many Americans don’t realize that Siam and Thailand are simply two names for the same place. Siam is an older name for Thailand, a name the people there abandoned many decades ago for the name we now associate with this fine cuisine.

Here is how it happened.

Thailand Red SundayPeople have lived in what is now known as Thailand for at least 40,000 years. Many great kingdoms came and went, existing under a series of different names. The country’s rich history is worth exploring. By the 1600s, however, westerners began to call the country “Siam.” The name stuck.

Then came the Siamese Revolution of 1932. Through a series of political actions too complex to go into here, this military coup led to the country’s entry into World War II with the invasion of French Indochina, putting them in the Axis camp. Japan gave its assistance to Siam, and vice versa, but the alliance was an uneasy one. Neither side trusted the other. In fact, there was a strong anti-Japan movement within the country at the time, despite the military dictatorship Siam was then under, and later even the United States admitted that Siam was at least partially coerced into siding with the Japanese.

As early as 1939, the then dictatorship tried to change the country’s name to Thailand, which means “land of the free,” but the Allies of World War II refused to recognize the change.

It was not until Siam made peace with the Allies and renounced their ties with Japan that the Allies agreed to recognize the name. Finally, in 1948, the Siamese assembly voted to officially change the country’s name to Thailand – this time with no objection from the Allied powers.

And that is how Siam became Thailand.

For more glimpses into Thailand history and culture, be sure to follow Siam Garden on Facebook!

Where Does The Name “Red Bank” Come From?

Here are Siam Garden, we feel blessed to do business in the community we do. When we set out to offer authentic Thai food in New Jersey, we knew we wanted a community that would embrace ethnic cuisine. Red Bank was that community. The people here are wonderful, our patrons are great, and we love working with our fellow business owners.

We don’t just love being in Red Bank for what it is today, either. Our town has a very interesting history – including how it got its name!

The history of the name “Red Bank” dates to before the American Revolution. The earliest known use was in 1736, when a plot of land was referred to as “a lot of over three acres on the west side of the highway that goes to the red bank” during a real estate transaction between Thomas Morford and Joseph French.

Red Bank - Broad Street, 1890sIn other words, it was a simple description of the landscape.

The area now known as Red Bank was originally part of “Shrewsbury Towne,” and began to be built up in the mid 1800s. Through the middle decades of the 19th Century, blacksmiths, lumber yards and other industry contributed to growth in the area. The trains arrived in the 1860s, and Red Bank became a boom town – and that old description from 1736 stuck.

Finally, in 1908, Red Bank split from Shrewsbury and became a town of its own, still using the name attributed to it by Thomas Morford and Joseph French.

Well, maybe. The truth is, records from the early days of Red Bank are very sparse. The above explanation is really a best guess by local historians. We may never know the real truth of how Red Bank got its name. This story may be as close as we get!

For more on Red Bank and what’s happening in the community, follow Siam Garden on Facebook.

The Galleria Red Bank’s Amazing History

If you have been to Siam Garden, you know that we take our location and ambiance very seriously. That’s why we are pleased to be located in a beautiful, historic building that has come to be a true landmark for Red Bank, NJ.

Red Bank GalleriaWe are talking about The Galleria Red Bank, a structure with a rich history and an even better future.

Despite its modern amenities, the large, sprawling building has a rustic feel – and that is no surprise. The building is over 100 years old! Once called the Eisner Building, construction started in 1907 and took ten years to be completed. The name comes from Sigmund Eisner, a family whose legacy stretches far beyond Red Bank. His grandson, Michael Eisner, is the former Chairman of Walt Disney!

Even prior to the Disney connection, the Eisners and their historic local building made an impact on the world. Once its doors were opened, it was a fully-featured textile factory. There, laborers worked to create uniforms that were worn by American soldiers in World War I and World War II. It was also one of the largest manufacturers of uniforms for the National Park Service, as well as for Boy Scout uniforms. Many old uniforms still bear the “Eisner” label inside.

Over the years the textile industry left the building. In danger of falling into disrepair, the building was purchased in 1984 and transformed into what it is today – a lovely, modern facility with shops, offices, stores, and fine Thai food in New Jersey.

It’s hard to argue with the results. The more than 100,000 square feet of the building showcase gorgeous red brick, hardwood floors, vintage ceilings, and more.

If you would like to see the how the beauty of this building works with an excellent Thai atmosphere, visit Siam Garden in Red Bank, or follow us on Facebook!