Archive | March, 2013

Meal Packaging: Tingkat

17 Mar

Takashimaya Mall in Singapore presented a Chinese New Year promotion a while back, offering a free food tingkat (pictured below) with a purchase above a certain minimum value at a household department.


Singaporean artist and blogger Heidi Koh took the following picture in Penang, Malaysia. For a still-life in oils she got a Peranakan (more on this in another blog entry) household utensils list from an aunt, which included a tingkat. Heidi says that the Peranakan people knew these colourful enamel food containers as tingkat (tiers) and that they were popularized in Penang, Malacca and Singapore during the British colonization.


Singapore celebrates an annual Food Festival. In July 2010 one of the many fringe events was the “Singapore Chinese Tingkat Cruise” on the Singapore river. From a bright red tingkat such as below left – which you got to keep! – you could taste Chinese dishes such as Teo Chew Carrot Cake, Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls and a Pokka Green Tea drink. The blogger KeropokMan (maybe brother to Henkel Man and Chicken Man?) has an entry on the river cruise on his blog Keropokman: Signapura Makan here. Keropok seems to be the Singapore word for the little prawn/shrimp crackers – I remember that my mom used to deep-fry colourful little krupuk (kroepoek) chips – as they are known in Indonesia (Dutch-colonial Indonesia) – when she made her Indonesian Rijsttafel, mmmm! KeropokMan also has a blog entry on tingkat-inspired-packaging here for mooncakes, part of the mid-autumn festival, which features in Judge Dee mysteries.


To find tingkat images on .sg-sites via google I used the word tingkat. For hits on .my-sites I had to use mangkuk tingkat, without really finding a sensible translation of this. In Malaysia the mangkuk tingkat gave its name to a reality TV cooking show, visuals below. TV9 , the channel presenting the now defunct series, classified it in the genre comedy. The idea: viewers meet celebrities who cook a challenging meal for them.

TV9_SHOWS_MT_header_814905714_kleintv9mt_logo_kleinSome other mangkuk tingkats I found were an old brass one, collected by baharuddinaziz presented on his blog collectible items


… and these more modern versions in stainless steel, plastic and foam from a Malaysian supplier.

Mangkuk_Tingkat_kombi_kleinParticularly astounding was this little gem from a news site: The Penang Municipal Council initiated a campaign against the use of polystyrene food containers by traders on the island. After a period of three months in which old stock may be used, any trader still offering food in or selling old stocks of polystyrene will be strictly dealt with. Google translation gives Public Health chairman Ong Ah Teong as saying “In contrast to other countries, they still do not run a campaign like this. We understand that this campaign is not a popular campaign, but for the sake of future generations of our children, it should be conducted. […] If the former can be decomposed polystyrene certainly it can be used. But because it was only able to decompose in 200 years time, we strictly do not want it used on the island state”. Below you see Ong Ah Teong (RHS) with Council Member Lim Cheng Ho (LHS) surrounded by packaging and exhorting traders to use mangkuk tingkats rather than polystyrene carriers.



Meal Packaging: Gamelle

12 Mar

For more than 130 years Swiss soldiers received a standard issue gamelle as part of their personal military kit. In 2004 this changed: soldiers had to return the gamelle after their service. Till then the military service “souvenir” was popular for use in camping, hiking, for Scouts and similar activities. Meanwhile it has given its name to an award for outstanding troop catering: the Gamelle d’or (Golden Gamelle).


These red and pastel gamelles with leather straps are, however, handbags! Designed by Walter Maurer of the Swissness-trend (think accessories made from Swiss army woollen blankets). Maurer came up with these in 2004, on the withdrawal of the gamelle from personal service, so to speak. The upcycled army canisters with cult potential have been recognised in international design circles here and here.


On the LHS you see a Gamelle Individuelle with a lid and chain. According to this reenactment organisation these date back to 1852 and normally had, on the inside of the pot itself, a small individual plate and handle to allow the French soldier to cook his own meal (most of the time these got lost in the trenches). In a collection of historical artefacts here you will find the original olivegreen gamelle with leather strap, marked 1944 (RHS). You may also see the likeness of the olivegreen gamelle with the German Henkelmann, the design of which is attributed to its military mess kit precursor.

50330_lrgUncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters sell military surplus, including the above 2-piece mess kit with heat-resistant handles and pouch. The online shop entry says of this product “Great for boy scouts, camping, backpacking or any outdoor adventure [yay, adventure!] when you may want a hot meal.”


There’s a touching story attached to the engraved mess kit above, which Paul Oriol tells in his blog entry here. Apparently this is his father’s gamelle from the Second World War. It was engraved by a fellow prisoner-of-war in Stalag VIIIC, near Sagen (Zagen), now in Poland, a neighbouring camp to the Stalag Luft III of The Great Escape fame. Paul describes his fascination with this personal history and how he eventually donated it to a museum dedicated to peace, the Mémorial de Caen in the Normandy, France. leather_mess_kit_3_kleinHere is another US army mess kit, with a leather holder:  includes 1 cooking pan and 1 divided pan for eating, stainless steel knife, spoon and fork. This one’s in the saddlebag section. More on outdoor kitchens-cuttlery-crockery on the survival-wiki site here. And in a cultural cross-over to our next food carrier this little pink item, exhorting you to take your organic fare to work. The French word gamelle translates to bowl, which is why you get an abundance of pet food bowls when googling images 😉


Forget picnic hampers and food carriers, I’m ready for a Travel Bar

11 Mar

It was the photo of the travel bar that Housewares Czar and Topsy Turvy Design had on their Getting ready for … (Gatsby!) blog that got me inspired to pursue my next white rabbitcat: Travel Bars. These seem to be firmly in the domain of Man Gifts and Dad Dreams, colliding somewhere along the line with many etsy offers and perhaps some decadence. It wasn’t so easy to find dependable information on these so I’m just going to offer some pretty pictures today. If you click on them you can follow them to the sites where I found them.

Victorian oak traveling liquor cabinet

Victorian oak traveling liquor cabinet

leather travel bar

leather travel bar

leather travel bar set

leather travel bar set

The Original TRAV-L-BAR by Ever-Wear, Inc., Chicago, 1960's

The Original TRAV-L-BAR by Ever-Wear, Inc., Chicago, 1960’s

Louis Vuitton portable mini bar

Louis Vuitton portable mini bar

one of a number of luxury travel bars by Swaine Adeney Brigg

one of a number of luxury travel bars by Swaine Adeney Brigg

Cointreau travel bar in a hatbox with atomiser

Cointreau travel bar in a hatbox with atomiser

Imperial collection vodka Faberge egg with gilded glass decanter and 4 shot glasses - Easter anyone?

Imperial collection vodka Fabergé egg with gilded Venetian glass decanter and 4 shot glasses – Easter anyone?

Finally, once you've tested and tasted your way through all the liquors in these travelling cases you will possibly be ready for one of these: Louis Vuitton Camp Bed Trunk once made for private camping

Finally, once you’ve tested and tasted your way through all the liquors in these travelling cases you will possibly be ready for one of these: Louis Vuitton Camp Bed Trunk, once made for private camping

Fancy Shmancy Travelling Tea Sets

10 Mar

If you thought the Chinese tea baskets yesterday were nifty, wait till you see today’s beauties! I’m beginning to feel a distinct relationship with Alice (of Wonderland fame) and her white rabbit pursuits: following my own food-carrier-meal-travelling-rabbit (or should that be cat?) down the intertubes has almost overwhelmed me with serendipitous finds – which you will be privy to.


One such white rabbit is Christopher Dresser, Victorian industrial designer. As a novice to Things Design I had not heard of him but am quite delighted to make the acquaintance here, here, here and here. Above you see a French Cased Gilt Silverplate Christopher Dresser Traveling Tea Set. At an estimated value in the region of 1.000 USD it probably behooves it to have such a distinguished name. Scottish-born, Dresser (1834-1904) was a protegé of Owen Jones, an English-born Welsh architect (1809-1874). Jones is considered one of the most influential design theorists of the 19th century and well-known for his book The Grammar of Ornament, which you can find in the illuminated books project.


Housewares Czar and Topsy Turvy Design started their blog Getting ready for … (Gatsby!) in June last year, on the occasion of the Art Deco Society of California’s annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon picnic. On one of their preparatory entries Housewares Czar shows off some beautiful vintage picnic sets – including the antique silver-plated travel tea set from the 1900s above.


A fine two person travelling tea set designed by Christopher Dresser, is displayed above. The pigskin-lined box houses a kettle with stand, a burner, sugar bowl, tea pot, cream and milk jugs and two sunny-yellow Royal Worcester cups and saucers. Hinged double fronted doors open to reveal a suede-lined interior with two spoons and sugar tongs. I’m so glad I love tea.


This (above) is a Louis Vuitton Travel Tea Case, found on the tea-tumblr MyrtleMakesTea. According to the slides (#14/28) of Priyanka Rawat this grained leather tea case was made for the Maharaja of Baroda 1926 of the Gaekwad dynasty. Today the city in Gujarat, India, is known as Vadodara.


Now there’s an unusual reason to start a blog by Gamil, a graphic and product design firm: A few years ago they noticed a remarkable amount of new traffic on their website. Realising that lots and lots of Gmail users were visiting them instead of their email accounts they started a blog to say “Hi!”. One of the blog entries shows tea on the go colonial style with the above tea set.


Housed in a wicker basket this travel tea set has the necessary tea-making and -drinking paraphernalia for two persons as well as a biscuit carrier and two linen napkins. I’m sure your little (pinky) fingers are itching to be raised.


And finally also in a wicker housing but with more robust tea-drinking items: An enamel and wicker traveling tea set, British, late 19th/early 20th century.

Culinary practices in crime

9 Mar

Whodunnits – set in other times and places – are a favourite of mine, certainly because of the crime stories but also because of the small window into another culture and into another era, courtesy of the authors. Two in particular I would mention here: Firstly, the Erast Fandorin Series by Boris Akunin (Grigory Chkhartishvili), whose tongue-in-cheek treatment of his tsarist-Russian hero adds to my reading delight. Foodscapes in the form of banquets and cafes feature as backdrops for the unfolding stories.


Secondly, the Judge Dee Series by Robert van Gulik, set in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Here culinary habits add to the temporal setting. The detective escapades are based on the historical magistrate Di Renjie (or: Ti Jen-chieh). van Gulik, a Dutch diplomat to Asia, first translated an 18th century Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An on the legendary Tang statesman, before starting off on his successful series.


One of the recurring customs in the Judge Dee books is the serving of tea kept warm in a tea basket to the judge. I always imagine Judge Dee puzzling over the aspects of the crimes while sipping hot tea kept warm in a travelling tea set such as the following examples.

936746_kleintea 5_kleinteaset_kleinUnbenannt_kleinTea Set 2_klein

Meal Packaging: Henkelmann

7 Mar

If you were thinking that the tiffin, pinto and rantang are so very Asian, let me assure you that we can come up with some continental European versions too. I give you not Chicken Man, but Henkel Man from Germany.


The Henkelmann, which is the most widely used German term, has a history strongly intertwined with industrialisation and the move from farm/rural labour to factory/urban labour. So being, it is also strongly associated with the Ruhr area, where development was notably influenced by coal mining and steel giants. The Ruhr (represented by the city of Essen) was the European Capital of Culture in 2010.


Also known as a Döppen (loosely translated: dunking under water) in the local Ruhr dialect, these enamel or aluminium food carriers made their debut before the advent of company canteens. Typically housewives would fill the Henkelmann with a meal and the carrier+food would be heated by means of hot water or steam at the factory. Judging by the lunchbox market here and here there could be a renaissance underway…


In a similar turn on a theme as the Thai packaging designer did for pinto and rice here, the student canteen association in the city of Bochum (absolutely Ruhr) recently used well-known features of the henkelmann (white, metal carrier, portability) for its meal services.


The Ruhrpott, as the region is lovingly known, has some entrepreneurs upholding this cultural icon such as the soup-and-salad bar Henkelmann Deluxe in Düsseldorf below and the Jazz Club Henkelmann in Iserlohn below-below. The -pott part comes from pütt, a term used for the mines; much as we like to play with its cooking connotations (Der Pott kocht).


Meal Packaging: Some Pretty Modern Renditions

5 Mar

Today lets look at some more modern renditions of these food carriers. If we want to enable habit changes, whether it be what you carry your lunch to school/study/work in or your take-away concept, then I think we will only be successful if we make things (more) attractive. These make the mark IMHO, starting with the ceramic+teakwood rantang (next two pictures) from Jenggala Keramik company in Bali.

2010_06_29-rantang1_klein 2010_06_29-rantang2_kleinMiss Sinclaire has the tiffin lunch kit coming up next for sale on the artist platform BigCartel. It’s a two-tier ceramic version with a cork lid with a cloth strap & stainless steel fittings.


Melamine + colour = yay! These stacked carriers have been on the markets for some time but they are still delightful. The simple form and the bright colours make them very attractive while being rather durable and dishwasher-safe.


Food carriers like these are ideal for travelling in any form. Below is a stainless steel vacuum insulated food carrier with a food jar bag. The individual bowls have lids while the Thermos version includes chopsticks or folding spoons.


And then there is this beauty: Designer Rob Englert of Ram Industrial Design calls this Dabba (Lunchbox).  It has a felt covering-cum-placemat, a bamboo lid and silicone-based bowls. Roll on lunch & picnics.