Ohh Bento!

I spent several years in various parts of Japan since I was a freshman in high school. I have been taught how to cook typical home meals by home-stay mothers, friends and the occasional cooking class at the local community center. Now that I am married, I implement Japanese meals into our weekly meal rotation. Yet, I have been shocked over America's newest craze for Bento boxes. (America loves something new and someone somewhere will profit from it!) Well, Bento boxes are typical (old fashion if you will) plating style for Japan and other Asian countries. Lunch specials (other meals also) in restaurants are often served on a flat tray with many compartments where different, yet cohesive food items are placed. Rice was either on the tray or in another bowl served with the tray.
I was shocked at how a simple normal concept has taken flight. Lunch for children are placed in a carrying case/Bento box with many layers. The layers or trays can be separated to reveal an assortment of lunch items, often with rice. Did I mention that they are cute little boxes and are selected by children in the beginning of the school year just as American children? Yes, I owned one, but I lost it while packing. :') Check out the one below.
Now for the craze! America, has realized that Bento boxes are helpful with portion control as well as variety. Adults love them because they can eat only half a cup of one thing and a cup of another, for example. Its helpful with children who are picky eaters and will only try a few bites of foods. A Bento box will allow for parents to pack only a bite or two.

Let's not forget the creative juices of American families. We go over and beyond to make our food appealing, especially for children. Check out my American friend's website. She is Bento crazy for herself and her husband:
Yelly's LunchBox

Another way to make lunch special in the Bento box fashion, please check out Muffin Tin Mom. She makes lunch in colorful and creative muffin tins according to the theme of the week. Her meals are geared toward children but who wouldn't want to escape the headache of the workday to eat like a child?
Muffin Tin Mom

So caps off to American and Japanese mothers who are trying to make lunch something more than dull sandwiches in a plastic bag with a bag of chips. Standing ovation to those that want their day to be a little sunnier in the middle. Hey, I'm just happy to know that I'm not alone anymore in the Bento Box world. I just have to learn to be more creative!
*these pictures are not mine!

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