When Chai Siriyam opened his celebrated Marnee Thai restaurant in San Francisco in 1986, he hoped to give his patrons a taste of Thai cuisine and culture so transporting that they could enjoy the country?s wonders without ever having to leave the neighborhood. His plan worked. Ad yet more than twenty years on, Chef Chai?s artistry and balanced hand with Thailand?s inimitable cuisine may in fact have sent just as many newly minted Thai-food enthusiasts to his homeland as they?ve brought through his restaurant door. The Taste of ThailandSkilled Thai cooks have an almost sixth sense for synthesizing disparate flavor elements into a seamless, unified, utterly balanced whole. And that?s not something they?ve achieved by accident. Thai cuisine has been developing as long as has Thailand itself, and over that time, it?s practitioners have learned which ingredients counter others, when to pair something mild with something heavy, and when to balance something hot with something s weet.The chief tools of this edible art are the herbs, spices, roots, shoots and other ingredients that comprise the Thai cook?s seasoning armamentarium. There?s nothing particularly mysterious or exceptional about the contents of the Thai pantry. Ingredients like cilantro, kaffir lime leaf, sweet basil, mint, lemongrass, coriander seed, cumin, peppercorns, garlic, galangal, ginger, chilies, tamarind, shallots, coconut milk palm sugar, dried shrimp, and fish sauce are common coin throughout SE Asia.