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Thai Cuisine

Former Peace Corps volunteer Nancie McDermott gives an armchair tour of the traditional Thai kitchen, with a focus on regional distinctions, religion, and a taste of Southeast Asian history. Nancie elaborates on the role of particular ingredients and kitchen equipment in the traditional cuisines of the Thai kingdom, offering a context for the extraordinary dishes and flavors that have earned Thai food a permanent place on the restaurant scene throughout the United States.

A dedicated fan of Thai cuisine since she found herself teaching English to Thai middle schoolers in northeastern Thailand as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1975, Nancie's study of Thailand's food, culture, and history is an ongoing endeavor. Her first books on the subject, Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking, was published in 1992, and is still in print and nearing the 100,000 copies mark in terms of its sales. Her Quick and Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes, published in 2004, has been widely praised, and together these two books provide a wealth of insight, inspiration, practical advice and recipes to cooks and eaters around the country.

Born and raised in Piedmont North Carolina, Nancie lives in nearby Chapel Hill with her husband and two daughters, and writes for newspapers and magazines around the country, including Fine Cooking, Cooking Pleasures, Cooks Illustrated, Edible Piedmont, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. Visit her website at


Recorded Saturday, November 14, 2009 at Chicago History Museum.

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