Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bento Time!

I have a deep and irrational love for bento boxes. Not that I have any talent (or time) for actually making up really cool ones (seriously -- some people create whole tableaux), but I do enjoy them nonetheless.

Wikipedia defines a bento as "a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container."

What a dull definition for something that can be so fun and exciting and whimsical!

A bento can be a simple, but pleasing, arrangement of complementary shapes and colors. Really sophisticated ones approach being works of art.

Today, I made a very, very simple bento for my in-laws to take with them on their trip (shown at right). It was just a sandwich with veggies (unfortunately, you can't see them in this photo, but I included carrots, celery sticks, grape tomatoes, and mini bell peppers) and a happy face made from a Babybel cheese. I got the idea for the faces from a blog called Cute Food For Kids. It wasn't a particularly exciting lunch, but when they opened it, I just wanted to give them a little surprise that would make them smile.

If you're interested in bentos, you could check out Just Bento, which is another blog I follow. I Love Obento! also has a wonderful bento gallery. Some of the creations you see there are truly fantastic.

In any case, bentos give me an excuse to collect more kitchen tools and gadgets (as if I really need a reason). They're also one of my little acts of love for my family. Especially when I know I've put a nice lunch together, I never get over the thrill of hearing my boys exclaim, "You're the best, Mom!"


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