Friday, 20 January 2012

I'm in love...

...with Bento boxes. Not only are these Japanese lunch boxes practical...but they satisfy my hunger for beauty. Each one is a study in creativity and simplicity.

Our family spends quite a deal of time at our local swimming pool. My husband coaches while my little salamander joins the others in swimming around nine kilometres a week. After each session he clambers from the pool and while dripping water over everything, immediately goes on a search and destroy mission in my bag for nourishment. Getting sick of seeing him eat the same old things, I started searching for different ideas to make for him and came across Bento boxes.

I was entranced.

In fact I was so entranced that I set about making my first one the next day. My husband’s initial amusement faded and before long joined me in the kitchen. Soon the enticing aroma of Japanese cooking filled the air.

As we worked together transforming slices of cheese into stars, and eating more than we made, I realised creating this bounty for my son was just like writing a novel. Okay, it doesn’t take quite as long or result in wanting to throw a computer across the room…but you get the idea.

First I layered steamed rice into the chosen receptacle. Just like our initial ideas this forms the base of our dish. It needs to have substance and be easy to manipulate if needed. At this stage nothing is set in stone.

Next we added Teriyaki beef for the sky and scrambled eggs for the ground. These layers added depth and allowed the ‘story’ to come together. Using different seasonings we created something that was not only had our tastebuds asking for more, but was also filling.

Finally we assembled sliced meat, cheese, carrots and tomato on the top. By arranging these finishing touches, we completed the picture into our ideal. It’s those little touches that appeal to our senses that take the dish, or book, from being ordinary-everyday-fare to being a creation worthy of The Master Chef.

That's mine in the picture above. It may not be the most creative thing you've ever seen, but can you imagine the 'ooh's and 'aahs' from a very hungry swimmer? Needless to say it didn't last long. :)

What is it that you’ve discovered recently that has your juices flowing?


  1. Lee. It's strange, but I cleaned out my study... completely... with bags and boxes of stuff going to the op shop and a few good things going on eBay, and it's like I've cleared my head. And I discovered a writing program where I can lay out my writing so I can see, quite literally, the big picture, and that has also cleared my thinking. And, yes, I have found the joy of Bento boxes but I haven't stepped up to the line of making them myself - but I think I will now.

  2. I can certainly appreciate the layering analogy (even though I've never heard of Bento). For me, expanding a theme into plots, characters and settings is the most interesting part of writing.

    I do wonder about the ethics of cooking the books, though. ;)

  3. It's kind of like painting with food, isn't it? When you paint you begin with a background and then add layers and finally the detail. It's a great analogy of writing. The background to me is like the first draft, and each re-draft adds more colour and depth to the final product. Thanks for sharing Lee. :)

  4. Thanks for sharing, Lee. I didn't know there was a name for making pictures out of food. I used to make something similar for my son when he was pre-school. This brought back a nice memory. Thank you. Blessings, Laura

  5. I'm a bit like Jackie, in that a nice tidy space does wonders for my thinking. I also seem to think better when I'm not busy, or too tired, and actually get the time to write. Writing makes creative thought easier for me. :)

  6. What a clever Mama you are, to make such a thing of beauty for your boy! He is one lucky salamander ;) I've always loved the order and creativity of bento. Now I shall think of it as a writing help too! xxx

  7. That's great, Lee. I've read articles in the past about how food which is prepared with the greatest artistry and love has actually been found by scientists to have the most beneficial effects on the cells of the body. Makes you think twice before just throwing something together.

    Having read these comments, I too, with the help of my daughter and youngest son, have been clearing books from our messy, piled-up shelves and ended with 5 boxes to offer to others or take to the good-will shop. It does help clear my head.

  8. Well done Lee! That was a very picturesque Bento Box. And you know - although it's not long since I had my lunch, you made me very hungry! Bet your little salamander ate every last crumb!

    That was a lovely analogy of our creative efforts at writing. Layer upon layer. I think a Christian writer's foundation layer is Jesus. And what a strong foundation He is. All else is layered on top of Him but in a myriad different ways since we are all different.

    Many thanks for the food for thought and the feast for the eyes!
    Anusha :)

  9. Having just come inside from spending time putting some new plants in areas of our garden that are usually inhabited by weeds, I've realised once again how fulfilling and creative gardening can be. And this morning I baked a couple of cakes - another creative activity I like. But also, having acquired a new grandchild, I recently began knitting again, which I find almost as addictive as writing! Just as well I'm not writing to any deadline!

  10. Oh, so that's what a Bento Box is. I wonder what my guests would think if I did a really big one for them to pick what they wanted from it! And how true to the writing scene, Lee. Getting the background established then adding the details (and taking away as the case may be.)
    What got my juices flowing? The fact that learning a new language or writing can off-set dementia by several years. Yay!

  11. My eldest starts preschool next week and I've been thinking about making a Bento box for her! It's so adorable. I don't think any kid could resist. Really enforces the strength behind presentation for anything in life.

  12. What a fun blog, Lee. It was visually appealing, and your descriptions have made me hungry. I’m logging off now to go and get sushi.