A question for New Mandala readers: Is Thai food considered universally delicious? If you ask most Thais they will, almost without exception, assert that Thai cooking beats the world’s best. And the global spread of Thai restaurants seems to back up that claim.

Food from elsewhere in Southeast Asia fails to enjoy such an exalted reputation. This has long intrigued me.

I expect that savvy marketing and good timing have helped Thai food win admirers around the world. But is there more to it? Could we live to see the food of Burma or Cambodia one day gain a global following? Or is that a fanciful notion?

In some countries Vietnamese comes close to Thai, I suppose, but you still don’t hear people salivating over it in the same way they do Thai food. So what makes food universally delicious? And why have the Thais been so successful at taking their cuisine to the far corners of the world?

Thoughts from readers on this topic are very welcome.