Monday, August 12, 2013

Boxed Lunch You Say? Have A Bento!

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Are you tired of your usual baon*? The never-ending combination of the left-over from last night’s viand and rice? Or the easy as one-two-three deep fried chicken nuggets, hotdog, ham, tocino*, longganisa* or bacon plus the rice? Never forget the rice. We Filipinos won’t even think of leaving the rice out in our meals.
Baon* - Boxed lunches in the Philippines , Tocino* - Cured meat product popular in former Spanish colonial possessions  , Longganisa* - A sausage similar to a chorizo.

Speaking of rice, Nihonjins* always include rice in their meals too. You see, we Filipino’s are not the only one fond of eating rice on our meals. Japanese people are our rice buddies too. And like us, they also feel incomplete if rice is not included in their meals. So they have rice for asagohan*, hirugohan*, and also for bangohan*. Since we have stated that Japanese people eats rice during hirugohan, Japanese students gets to eat rice too during their breaks, encased in their lunch boxes, filled with scrumptious and organized food in which we call Bento.
Nihonjins* - Japanese people , Asagohan* - Breakfast , Hirugohan* - Lunch , Bangohan*- Dinner

The word Bento originated from the Song Southern Dynasty slang “biàndāng” which means convenient or convenience. The Origin of the Bento can be traced back to the late Kamakura Period (1185-1333) when hoshi-ii* was developed. In the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600), wooden boxes in which we now call bento were produced. It was then in the Edo Period that the Bento cultured had gained its popularity and was given attention. It was then in the Meiji Period (1868-1912) that the first ekibento* or ekiben* was sold. In the Taisho Period (1912-1926), Aluminum bento box became a luxury item because of its silver-like appearance and also for it is easier to clean.
Hoshi-ii* - Dried rice/meal , Ekibento/Ekiben* - Train sold bento

Though also during the Taisho period also, the practice of bento in school became a social issue. It is because it is said that a bento reflects the student’s wealth and people have wondered if this brought negative influence to the children. And so, After the World War II, the practice of bringing bento to school have drastically declined and was replaced by uniform food provided for both students and teachers.

It was then in the 1980’s that Bento has regained its popularity. The expensive metal and wood boxes have been replaced with polystyrene boxes which are cheaper. Also handmade bento has made its comeback in Japanese schools. Also homemade bentos are wrapped furoshiki* cloth which is handy, for it serves as both bag and table mat.
 Furoshiki* - Traditional Japanese wrapping cloth

Bento usually holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables so we can guarantee that its healthy for it contains the elements needed in a healthy diet. Also, Bento can also be arranged in a style called “Kyaraben” which means character bento. That’s right! With this kind of styling you can make your favorite anime, manga or cartoon character out of your food. Cool right? Another type of styling your Bento is called the “Oekakiben” or the picture bento. With this, the bento is decorated to look like people, monuments, places, animals, and items such as flowers and plants.

Did you know that there are contests being held where the most aesthetically arranged bento wins? What about you? If you’re given the chance to decorate and style your own bento what would your design be?

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  1. Yo, Bia! Nice choice of article topic there. I've always loved looking at these kind of bentos, and always wanted to make my own. And if ever I give it a try, I'll definitely go and make a cat-themed bento! That is if I actually learn how to cook without burning anything. Anna The Red is definitely an inspiration when it comes to bento-making. You need to check out her stuff, bro. *A*

    1. Thanks for the input, love~ Just like you I've always admired bentos as I see it all over the anime and japanese shows that I watch. I hope we can make a bento together!. Someday, for sure! As for now I've settled making my own onigiri its a small step I know but atleast I've made some progress! Don't worry Kyra, you just need some practice in cooking and you'll get there eventually! Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check her works sometime!

  2. While scrolling through this blog, I passed by this article and stopped to look at it mainly because of the pictures that you put in your article. I have always wanted to have a packed lunch that looks too good to eat and a bento is exactly what I've been looking for. I just hope it tastes as good as it looks.

    1. Thanks for the insight Rizelle! The taste varies whoever does the bento. And I'm sure bento offers other qualities other than its looks. And yes! If ever I bought my first bento I think I would hesitate to eat it because of how good it looks!

  3. This article is really great! It simply show the creativeness of a person. Though I wonder if the taste would be as good as the presentation.

  4. I really like bentos and I like seeing them styled like this because they're so cute! ;u; If i were to make a bento, i'd make it Totoro-themed. And Doctor Who. Yes. c:

  5. Wow Bia! The article is really interesting! and to tell you I am curious of what a bento tastes like! Great work!!

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