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Community spirit lives on

Bringing local people together to celebrate big festivals such as Tod Kathin and share food made in communal kitchens is a tradition that continues today

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Thailand's repertoire of food rests on three different bases. The first is the household _ foods to be cooked and eaten at home. Some of these dishes are easy to prepare, while others require more work, such as various nam prik (chilli dip sauces) and curries. 

The second category also includes food for social or community events. On these occasions, large amounts of food have to be made to feed many people, so a number of housewives with domestic cooking experience pitch in to help out in a communal kitchen.

Finally come the foods associated with religious and festive occasions. These dishes have long histories and traditions associated with them, and include offerings made for Songkran (the Thai lunar New Year), local deities, or to ancestors, as at Chinese Sat Chin (spirit festival) and New Year's ceremonies. Krayasat _ a mixture of seeds and nuts with sugar, honey and sweet milk _ is made for the Thai spirit festival and for the vegetarian festival, when meat and strong-smelling vegetables are not eaten, and is also in this category.

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