o bento!

Whereas I can barely get it together to keep enough bread on hand to make a sorry little sandwich to bring to work, it seems that plenty of lucky people are enjoying elaborate lunches that are delicious and fun to eat, through the phenom of bento.

Here's a quick intro to bento (aka obento). (Thanks for the link, Alice!)

Food in Japan is famously prepared as much for the eyes as for the palate. This is true even for Japanese preschoolers, most of whom take an elaborate, adorable mom-made meal, called obento, to school every day. The tradition becomes part of the social education of both parent and child and creates a connection between home and school for a youngster’s earliest forays away from family.

A typical mother spends almost an hour crafting every lunch into a healthful, beguiling blend of cartoon characters, flora and fauna — anything that will make the food appeal to her child.

This is not just for kids. Check out the Cooking Cute bento blog for daily inspiration. She started bento-ing in January this year, and now spends up to and hour and a half each morning creating bentos for her and her husband. Here are just a couple of her recent creations:

That extra hour and a half of wake-time before work seems much too daunting for me. But you definitely get some cute (and yummy) results. I think I'll start with a few little touches, like Cooking Cute's tutorial on how to make a chick in an egg.

There are also tons of bento blogs in Japanese, like e-obento.

Also a great place for inspiration, as always, is Flickr: just search for photos tagged bento and obento, and for flickr groups. Now if they could only figure out how to make waking up early to make bentos look that cute.

Alice  – (May 23, 2006)  

YAAAAY, I finally found something that M&C hadn't previously found! I feel so special! :) Of course, you went far beyond the original website and found so much more, but I made it onto M&C! :D

Colleen  – (August 22, 2006)  

Wow, I would eat this everyday- japanese and happy looking food! I think the bunnies are my favourites.

Really, just great!

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