Sir Stamford Raffles established the Singapore Settlement, called the Straits Settlement for the British East India Company in the early 1800’s. His name is everywhere on streets, metro stations and most famously on the Raffles Hotel. Tiffin, on the other hand, originated from an English word meaning ‘little drink’ and has become established in Anglo Indian lore as a small meal replacing afternoon tea.
Tiffin at the Raffles Hotel is an Afterrnoon Event! This includes smal Asian nibbles as well as cucumber sandwiches, scones, with jam and clotted cream, ‘light as finger’ sponge cake and Assam tea, We lined up, suitably attired, with other hopefuls, mainly Australians and were greeted by a tall Sikh, dressed in white silk turban, white tunic, long black boots and an ammunition belt, sans ammunition, slung across his shoulders. These doormen are so iconic that toy replicas are available at the Raffles gift shop. We were shown to our table by Nitin, who later informed Fred that he had completed his hotel management training in New Delhi and who instructed us and our near neighbours on the ‘tiffin procedure’.
We continued to indulge while a harpist floated classical music around us and a tropical downpour deluged the potted palms outside. We felt suitably transported to an age of privilege and posh accents.
This completed our Singapore culinary experience. We had gone from the Lau Pa Sat market with Bonnie on Sunday night, where we tried oyster omelette, Hokkien Mie, Singapore style and chicken rice, to the Sin Hoi Fish head Restaurant opposition our hotel on Monday night, where the fish literally jumped out of the tanks onto our table to this.
Interspersed with eating, we had completed a walking tour of Chinatown, where tour guide Nancy regaled us with the history of settlement, the ins and outs of Chinese temple worship, including a temple which revered Tao, Buddhist and Confusian concepts. We tried some traditional Chinese medicine and bought some 8 Heavenly Task tea to calm our inner yin (or yang) and leant about burning effigies of gold nuggets or even iPhones at a traditional Chinese funeral.