“They” say you eat first with your eyes. And yet, we often leave “presentation” for the fancier dinner restaurant chefs. On a day to day basis, we settle for the very least. If we make lunches to save money while at work or for our loved ones, we impatiently saw a sandwich in half — most frequently, crushing the edges with a dull butter knife — and wrap it in some clingy piece of plastic.
It’s a depressing image, to be sure! It makes you feel like you’re just slogging through life, waiting for the little blips to occasionally brighten the sludge of weary, unmemorable days. But it doesn’t have to be that way, for you or for the ones you cook for . . .
That can all change, after you read Happy Bento! Lunches on the Go by Anna Adden, published by Cedar Fort. They are publishers that feature life enhancing/affirming books. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!
There’s so much more to a bento box than you normally see at your usual sushi haunt. The little sectioned boxes are but the first step in staging creative to-go meals. Apparently, they can range from colorful plastic ditties to elaborate, hand-carved wooden ones that cost hundreds of dollars!
The book then delves into what type of food you can put into bento boxes and suggestions on how it might look. Is it all Japanese? Not at all! There are typical American dishes: waffle breakfasts, hamburgers, as well as Greek, Italian, Mexican and vegan specialties.
There are also lots of meal combinations that are quite figure-friendly, for we dieters. This is a very interesting concept– not new, but rarely followed — to treat your low-cal food in a loving, artistic way. It makes fresh, simple ingredients more special and thus, more satisfying,
One of the bento concepts that was completely new to me is that the boxes require lots of presentation supplies and the preparation requires more tools than you’re used to when making American meals. The author clearly approves of stocking up on lots of colorful silicone food cups. Similarly, bright silicone dividers are part of the exotic arranging; you’re probably already used to the plastic green “grass” dividing up various sushi dishes both at restaurants and with carry-out. The silicone dividers come in many other shapes along with grass. Also, there are silicone topped picks and skewers that you can buy at Asian grocery stores, etc., that add color to fruit kabobs, sandwiches and more. I have a few funny silicone kitchen tools: a crazy Gumby type guy that’s a spoon; a strawberry tea strainer and a tea strainer shaped like a guy going to the toilet in my tea cup. Really! Keep your eye out for such things on eBay,
Some of the tools you’ll want, you may already have: a sharp paring knife, various cookie and biscuit cutters, molds, kitchen scissors. These are to create fun and funny shapes in the things you’ll be munching on.
Even if you don’t have international grocery stores near you, the back of the book lists websites where you can find bento box supplies.