I get very excited about bento. A Japanese version of a lunchbox, bento has devoted followers not just in Japan, but all over the world. And I can see why. It appeals to my senses of order and pretty – some bentoists go to elaborate measures to present food in the most attractive way possible. I just like how it looks in its tiny little sections, all delicately garnished and separate and cute. And please, don’t get me started on the containers themselves… they were just about the only thing I brought back from Japan!
Below is how I’d have my lunch every day if only I had the time, the inclination, and the skill:
|Never gonna happen.
Below is one way that bento can be constructed in Japan for either lunch or dinner:
|I love the random bits of one orange segment or one cherry tomato.
|Still tastes good!|
|Extra snacks 🙂|
|Fruit and treats.|
I love bento for the excuse I get to have cute things and make my food look pretty. On the plus side, the food also tastes good. On the negative side, it can take slightly more effort than slapping some Vegemite on Wonder White and throwing some Iced Vo-Vos in Glad Wrap. But honestly? Not much more. The point is to have it tightly packed, garnished, cracks filled and tiny portions of lots of things. Speaking of tiny portions, Japan was Veggie Mama’s dream come true. Everything I ate was dainty and perfectly proportioned for me – right down to the three artfully-placed drops of ketchup next to my neatly mounded mashed potatoes. sigh.
For this I’ve added some dinner leftovers… veggies sauteed in garlic, chili, teriyaki sauce and rice wine vinegar, some rice, and two bamboo-wrapped mock chicken pieces. Hello Kitty contains wasabi peas, cherry tomatoes and edamame for snacking or as extras (extra containers are known as ‘sidecars’ among the bento enthusiasts) and the Clickety Click container with grapes, a jam sandwich and a cream cheese sandwich cut into shapes, and a mini Hershey treat. The top of this container kills me with its Engrish – it says “Yummy yummy, my name is Rinda. I love the white cake. And sweet cherries”, and has a picture of a yellow, winking rabbit. ADORABLE.
There are tons of bento blogs for you to check out, should you be so inclined, with tons of ideas to make your food cute. Some make Pokemon cheese shapes for their kindergartners, some colour their rice blue and make a full underwater scene with their food. Some press boiled eggs into various shapes that imprint cheerful faces on them, some cut octopi out of hot dogs. I will be doing all this and more when Bumpington goes to school, so lets put the good vibe out there now that it will be a girl, as I”m not sure a son would ever forgive me….