Myanmar people enjoy rice as their main food and it comprises about 75% of the diet. Rice is served with meat or fish, soup, salad and vegetables all cooked in their own ways, and some relishes to complement the 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.
Myanmar people have a long tradition of preparing food in their own way and the history of traditional food may be as old as the culture and arts of its people. Myanmar is an agrarian country with rice as the principal crop. Myanmar used to be the world’s biggest rice exporter.
Myanmar lies between two great and very different cultures which have influenced not only religion, culture and arts, but also the preparation of food. During the colonial period, the influx of Chinese and Indians also had an impact on Myanmar traditional food, introducing new items. With the advent of globalization and trade liberalization, most famous foods from around the world are available in the cities, yet the majority of Myanmar people still cherish their own food, ensuring that its essence and uniqueness remains unchanged.
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 dishes including rice are 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.
Soups and salads
Most Myanmar people regard soup 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.