I’ve been in the mainstream media a little bit lately due to the publication of the book. You can’t control what ultimately appears in print or online of course, but sometimes I’ve been a bit bemused by what the reporter has picked up on after an hour or so of talking to me. So far, no one has been nasty though - that’s a good thing, right? ^_^
I really did like this article by Reuters reporter Elaine Lies that appeared this week a lot. She really managed to condense into a few paragraphs what I have been trying to convey, both in the book and on this site, about bentos. Just as the subtitle of the book says, it’s really about Everyday Lunches to Go. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the culture that I come from, what I’m proud of and what I’m not so proud of. While I have ambiguous feelings about some parts of Japanese culture, the bento box, especially homemade bentos, is one I can endorse wholeheartedly. It’s a piece of home, lovingly packed into a little box or two. It’s a little present that you can unwrap and enjoy with your eyes, your taste buds, your stomach and your heart.
This is a perfect example of an everyday bento for me. It has chicken karaage with burdock and two-color namasu, two recipes introduced here recently, plus some simmered komatsuna and carrot with chirimenjako (semi-dried tiny fish) and storebought narazuke pickles. It’s all assembled from things made in advance and stocked in the refrigerator or freezer, so it just took a few minutes to put together.
Granted, it is quite traditional-Japanese. That’s what I grew up with after all. But as many other bentos on this site show, the food you pack into a bento doesn’t have to be Japanese. You can start with foods that are comforting and familiar to you and go from there. I hope you do try the recipes on this site, and that a few will enter your repertoire. But the most important thing about bentos is that they have to taste good, and look good, to you or or whoever you’re making the bento for. And the second most important thing is that bento-making should not be a source of stress, it should be a pleasure.
Anyway, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope that Santa will bring you all the presents you wished for!
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