Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Bento Box


This is not your typical lunch box (at least not in Canada, it isn't)!

When I was teaching in Japan, one of my students gave me a bento box. It was just a plain double decker bento box with separators/dividers. It also had a spot to store chopsticks. This was perfect for me because I have never been a sandwich kinda gal. Sandwiches for lunch just seemed so boring to me. Plus, I'm not much of a bread eater to begin with. Gourmet sandwiches or Paninis are great, but regular, plain 'ol sandwiches don't quite do it for me. Funny, because Hubby loves regular, plain 'ol sandwiches!

Anyway, the bento box is fantastic because you can make sure you have all the food groups, it's portable, compact, and the best part...it's portion controlled!
When I was in Japan (1998-2000), many Japanese mothers were stay-at-home moms. Times are changing and I don't know what the work situation is like in Japan now, but when I was there it wasn't the norm for a mom to work outside of the home.

Mothers took care in preparing their husbands' and children's lunches. I was shocked to see all the time and effort put into preparing a bento box.

I used to stare in awe (yes, I know it's impolite to stare) when I saw some of the lunches my young students brought! I told them that my Mom never made lunches that fancy for me when I was a kid. The students told me that it was a mom's way of showing she cared. Plus, presentation is very important in Japanese culture. My students in turn were shocked to hear that my Mom packed me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple and a juice box for lunch. To me, that was a cool lunch when I was a kid!

Some of my adult students were Japanese housewives who studied English twice a week as a "hobby". I was so curious about the bento boxes that when my teaching contract finished and I was set to return to Canada after my two years in Japan, my students got me a Japanese cooking class as my sayonara present. One of the things I learned how to make was a bento lunch. The detail and prep work involved was pretty crazy! I realize that not all moms in Japan go to great lengths to make a bento like this: or this: or this: or even this: Pretty wild, eh?

*All images found on Google Images*

4 comments:

merinz said...

Those lunches look so appetizing! The Japanese have food presentation down to a fine art.

caninecologne said...

wow, those look marvelous, but painstakingly detailed.

sometimes i'll make my daughter make her own lunch (sandwich). ha ha.

one of my friends got her a bento box and she is the envy of her classmates when she gets to bring rice and spam w/furikake sprinkles.


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Dina said...

sheesh...those bento boxes are awesome!! no wonder the students used to complain about the lunches most to me when i was the homestay coordinator at WTC!! most of the homestay moms would send a sandwich, fruit and drink box!! (which is pretty much what i take for lunch daily these days too!!)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Those are great! Maya had a bento box for awhile, but it's not cool anymore. Maybe she'll use it again in High School?

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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