Friday, September 17, 2010

Bento Boxes

I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm accomplishing something if I throw together a PB&J, some pretzels, an applesauce and a cookie and pack them in a lunch box for London's school lunch.  I mean, hey, that's better than the school lunch, right?

But I have to say that in the field of lunch preparation, (some) Japanese moms outshine (some of) us US moms like a red giant star outshines a white dwarf.  How do I know this?  Well, not by direct observation, but by observation of their tools of trade.  What am I talking about???  Bento boxes.

Bento boxes are small containers - lunch boxes - that contain a variety of Japanese foods in small portions.  I have a bento box - they come in some beautiful styles and colors - but I've never used it because my big 'ole American appetite requires more food than will fit in one of those little boxes. 

The bento boxes for adults can be beautiful, but the bento boxes for kids are beautiful inside (or at least those done by those over-achieving Japanese moms).  I've heard it's quite the competition in Japanese schools to have the best looking bento box and this is what I mean...

These photos are from a "recipe book" my neighbor Kelly bought at a Japaese book store.  These are how-to instructions for achieving these amazing, edible, healthy creations for your kids lunch.

The bunny is made from cooked egg whites and yellows cut with special cookie cutters.

Here are the direction pages for how to make some of the creations.  They actually trace designs on paper before cutting them out of egg (I think?).  The details are made with nori (sea weed) and carrot.

Note how they place the parts together with tweezers!

They are fond of making cartoon characters - Bugs Bunny!

Little Miss and Mr. Men characters

Some sad looking cats...

The stores are full of utensils for making these cute little lunches - mini forks, cookie cutters, decorations, etc.  These are some mini forks that the kids talked me into buying...

How could you eat a lunch that looked so cute??? 

Call me lazy, but no matter how early I woke up, my kid's lunches will never look like these!!!

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