Archive | April, 2013

The Tiffin Room

21 Apr

Stacked food carriers are part of the food culture in Singapore, as we described here. They even give name to the Tiffin Room, one of 15 restaurants and bars of the prestigious Raffles Hotel on Beach Road, which was founded by the Armenian Sarkies brothers, as was The Strand in  Rangoon, Myanmar/Burma. The venue description picks up on the light-lunch meaning of the word tiffin, not on the food-carrying part.


Thus tiffins are part of the deco: in the dining room pic there is a display cabinet far right which has some colourful tiffins, as also in the hotel’s buffet photo on the right. Some more detail can be seen behind Chef de Cuisine Kuldeep Negi and his curries, described here and a pleasant visit is described in the Sydney Morning Herald here. There’s a lovely blog entry on Tiffins by Product Design and Transportation Design students at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India that were tasked with investigating the history of design here.

Image Chris Wee

Who told me? Whodunnit? Shamini Flint. In her book Inspector Singh Investigates: The Singapore School of Villany. Two of the characters have lunch in the Tiffin Room at the Raffles Singapore. During lunch they meet one of the murder suspects …



Louis Vuitton only put a camp bed in a trunk. Hotello is a whole hotel room in a trunk.

15 Apr

We’ve been talking about portable meal packaging (= food carriers), including travel bars and mobile kitchen-cafés over the past weeks. Hotello takes it to a whole new level. Genovese artist Roberto da Luca teamed up with architect & designer Antonio Scarponi of Zurich, Switzerland, to create a package that will give you a 4 sq m space, containing everything you need (note: need) for work (office room) and rest (hotel room). A metal structure is used to support curtains which are sound absorbent and translucent (not transparent). There is a further curtain layer to give you darkness. Once these are rigged up you have a room. For that room you have in your trunk a desk, a stool, a shelf, a locker and a lamp.


Another addition to your systems kitchen

14 Apr

About a year ago we presented the Microbial Home by Philips Design as an example of systems thinking in the kitchen. Here’s an independent addition from Spanish industrial designer Curro Claret. Now you won’t waste even a crumb. Drill holes in a bread board. Gather crumbs below by means of funnel and tube. Attach bird feeder. Offer to birds.


Travel Bar on Bicycle

9 Apr

kSeRtdH_kleinCame across this traveling bar on imgur today, followed it back to reddit/bicycle; made me think of Springtime, the picnic-bicycle. Style points lost: If you can transport glass bottles you can transport drinking glasses.

Meal Packaging: Mohinga?

2 Apr

Perhaps it was Granddad, there’s a head on the beach, a whodunnit set in Thailand (told you I liked ’em set somewhere else here) very much in the now, that brought me to Burma (Myanmar). Author Colin Cotterill, who lives on the Thai border with Myanmar, allows his book to give a voice to the issue of Burmese fishing slaves in Thailand, as related by this book reviewer here.


Try as I might, I could not find the word used in Burma for our stacked food carrier. An Austrian seller, Golden Rock, calls them Mohinga and offers hand-painted, stainless steel ones like those pictured above. But mohinga is really the term for the traditional Burmese fish+noodle soup, a dish also eaten for breakfast; see here.


So what did I find? Given Myanmar’s colonial history (the British) it was perhaps not so surprising that I increased my hits using the Anglo-Indian term tiffin. Indeed, you can enjoy a food carrier-served high tea as shown above at the famous hotel The Strand in Yangon (Rangoon) with its classy history.


I also discovered marvellous bamboo lacquerware food carriers. The single- and four-bowl black food carriers above are from around the early 19th century. Common to many Burmese versions that I saw, the lid can be turned over and used as a cup – a feature that we haven’t come across in the other food carriers covered to date. The second photo shows a very large 11-piece lacquered food carrier with paintings of court scenes and dancing ladies from the early 20th century (an exquisite one from the Dhara Dhevi Collection can be seen in the fotostock catalogue here, though whether Dhara Dhevi refers to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or something else, I could not ascertain). The third photo is a very colourful, large Banquet Motif Wedding Basket Style Food Carrier (antique sellers are very into pedigreed names, aren’t they?) with an integrated plate, a tray and a small bowl – suggested use here is for sauces. Would you believe, it is being profanely flogged as a chip-and-dip-server…

pb-121112-hotairBalloons-849p_photoblog900_kleinFor the few travellers that do visit Burma and those that head to Bagan (formerly: Pagan) in the middle of the country, there seem to be some great things to do: you can go hot-air ballooning (see above), you can go visiting a plethora of temples (more than 2.000 of the purported 10.000 pagodas, monasteries & co. once erected around Bagan alone), you can even go adventure-marathoning as of this year 2013. But why I found it and followed it up is because Bagan is also known for its lacquerware tradition, including the making of lacquered food carriers such as this colourful one. After reading up about Bagan I am making it an Official White Rabbit of mine.


For all the appealing Burmese bamboo lacquered food carriers to be found, they are not the ones being used in ordinary Burmese lives, judging by travellers’ photo galleries and expat blogs. Scottish-born bloggeress Feisty Blue Gecko is working in Asia. Her photos (including the above 3 photos – note the nifty carrier bag in the middle one) give us an impression of some life in Myanmar. The young novice with tiffin below is one of Joshua Groenendijk‘s photos from his beautifully captured travels.


It’s a fact

1 Apr