Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bento Boxes

Have any of you guys ever made a bento box? I just got really into them a few weeks ago.

A bento box is a takeout or home-packed meal that is meant to serve one person. It started as a part of Japanese cuisine, but has recently taken off in other places and all over the Internet. A traditional bento box usually consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. But they can really be anything you like! The whole idea is that it's packed efficiantly and utilizes all of the boxes space. They're so economical! Bento containers can range from disposable and mass produced to fancy and hand crafted. Often, the box is partitioned, which helps it to be packed and stay put. I found the picture to the left on Boing Boing this morning. It shows a really awesome Care Bears bento box, but a quick Internet search will come back with tonssssss of different cute and themey bento boxes.

The first day that I discovered the bento box I attempted to make my lunch for the next day in bento form. See the picture to the right. It didn't include rice, fish, meat, or any pickled or cooked vegetables. (It does have an assortment of tiny things and vegan meats, however.)

On the bottom sides, there is a cut-up vegan bologna sandwich on a round sandwich thin, cut in half and facing out. Then I threw a few pieces of vegan pepperoni on top (to attempt to make it pretty. Fail, right?). Then I cut up a chocolate Vitamuffin and put it in a cupcake baking container and I did the same with a box of raisins below it. Then, because I thought it needed something to hold it in place, I dumped handfuls of Cheerios in all the gaps, and voila! Bento!

Welllllll, by the time I had driven my bento box to work and taken it out at lunch time, it had all jumbled up and the Cheerios were soggy and gross. So, wompwomp. But it was my first try and I had limited ingrediants, and it tasted good enough (other than the Cheerios), so I'm still pretty proud of myself!

Anyway, there are a few books on bento boxes in the Suffolk County Library System. If you're interested, put one or two on hold and maybe YOUR bento box will turn out better than mine did.

501 bento box lunches : 501 unique recipes for brilliant bento
Bento boxes : Japanese meals on the go
Simple menus for the bento box
Face Food : The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes

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