Thai cuisine involves the balancing of contrasting flavours, spicy and subtle, sweet and sharp. It is also concerned with aesthetic vaiues for the Thais believe that food should please the eye as well as the palate.
One particularly delightful aspect of Thai cuisine and the reflection of a more leisured age is the art of carving fruit and vegetables. This is a traditional craft which is still popular.
In the fruit carver's skilled hands and using a small and very sharp pointed knife, an ordinary papaya or pumpkin is turned into a bouquet of flowers, a radish becomes a tiny rabbit or daisy or a carrot a rare orchid. Almost any kind of fruit or vegetable can be used. The carver must understand the texture of each and use its natural colour to imitate that of the chosen subject. Not all the carvings are as small as a flower; a large round watermelon becomes a richly decorated and lidded bowl to be used as a container for fruit salad. The green outer skin is cut away to make a pattern in relief of flowers or even characters in Thai literature.
Why should someone bother to transform a pumpkin into a magic coach or a beetroot into a butterfly? The answer is the Thai appreciation of beauty and craftsmanship, whatever the medium.Information from: "Thai Studies" by Wadee Kheourai.