The ancient Thai art of carving fruit and vegetables is formally known as Kae Sa Luk in Thailand. Kae Sa Luk turns fruits like pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, melons, papayas, and watermelons into stunning works of art that amaze everyone and draw crowds. This very different art-form has been around for a very long time, and it is popular in Thailand’s restaurants and is only now becoming known by the rest of the world.
Kae Sa Luk originated in Sukhothai in central Thailand as far back as the 13th century. The idea was a young concubine’s who lived in the Emperor’s palace. Wanting to stand out from the other concubines by doing something that was different to decorate her lantern for a festival, she delicately carved fruit and vegetables into stunning works of art, into small and large flowers with leaves to adorn her lantern. The Emperor was very impressed with this wonderful display, and admired the glorious artwork, saying that this art should be shared with all the people in the land.
The people of Thailand soon started carving, and today both locals and tourist are entranced by this beautiful and decorative art form. Intense work goes into making this finely detailed art form, from tomatoes and carrots into roses to pumpkins that become animals. Melons transform into swans and other birds, and watermelons turn into flowers and baskets that hold watermelon balls and the flowers.
A very fine set of special carving knives with precise blades are made only by Thai craftsmen and are used for this intricate carving work. Today there is an institute in Bangkok for teaching food stylists the art of Kae Sa Luk. The results of this craft can be seen in wedding centerpieces, on display at banquets, decorating for festival days, and at many restaurants in Thailand. This is popular with tourists to Thailand, who go to see these works of art that are part of Thai culture.
The Thai people are a gentle mainly Buddhist nation, and love nature, and basically anything found in nature can be carved from fruit and vegetables, trees, whole landscapes, and so realistically carved, one needs to look twice, unbelievably realistic, true to life. There is an amazing orangutan carved from a large pumpkin, and if you did not know it was a vegetable, you would think it was carved from either wood or sculpted in stone. Truly amazing.
The beauty of this art is often best appreciated in person, according the various global reviews. Thai restaurants proudly put these on display to be admired by tourists. The art of Kae Sa Luk is now also offered as an extra-curricular subject in Thailand’s schools.