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Let’s face it, in the Western world, we may order the odd spicy pizza, but our cuisine isn't exactly known for its heat. Many people visiting Thailand, or trying authentic Thai food for the first time, often encounter the burning mouth, running nose, and numb lips that only a really spicy dish can cause. So how do we go about enjoying Thai food without running for the ice?
Let’s face it, in the Western world, we may order the odd spicy pizza, but our cuisine isn't exactly known for its heat. Many people visiting Thailand, or trying authentic Thai food for the first time, often encounter the burning mouth, running nose, and numb lips that only a really spicy dish can cause. So how do we go about enjoying Thai food without running for the ice?

The simplest way, yet not the best way, is simply to ask for dishes to be prepared without too much chilli. Asking for a dish to be made “Mai Phet” or not hot, is the way to achieve this. However, if you do this, you are missing the true Thai taste, and eating a dish which is a shadow of its proper flavour.

Now I will teach you a little secret I have discovered over the past 5 years living in Thailand. The Thai people cheat when it comes to spicy food. They know for a fact that certain things like sugar will kill the burning chilli sensation dead, whilst leaving the taste intact. Watch a Thai person putting condiments into noodle soup, if you see them adding sugar to a dish, now you know why. In a similar fashion, several types of vegetable leaves can have the same effect, such as peppermint.

Hands down the best way to cope with spicy food is to become accustomed to it. Persevere, eat food as spicy as you can handle, and then increase the heat over a period of time. Trust me on this, spicy food needn't be scary, and you'll open your palette to some wonderful flavours and cuisines around the world in no time.

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