Archive for September, 2009
A Japanese radio station asked me to do an on-air interview about bento lunches in the United States, and they seem to think that there’s a growing trend of American men who pack bentos. This may be because of a recent trend in Japan of “bento danshi“, or men making bentos for themselves or their families, often as a way to cut food bills in rough economic times. (See the recent Guardian article and video on the subject, or a Japanese TV clip about bento men.)
Although I know of a few men who make bento lunches (Mr. T on the Lunch in a Box forum, A Man’s Bento blog), my impression has been that the vast majority of U.S. bento-makers are women. If you’re a bento-packer in the U.S., weigh in via the poll so we can either prove or debunk this theory!
Do you know of other men who pack bentos in the U.S.? Bento blogs or Flickr streams by men? Are you a man who packs bento lunches? Feel free to weigh in or share links in comments. The radio interview is slated to air in Tokyo late this week, and I’ll provide a link to the podcast afterwards. UPDATE: The bento segment aired on J-Wave Friday morning Japan time, with a Japanese write-up in the Global Frontline section of the station’s blog.
If you're a bento-maker in the U.S., are you male or female?
- Female (82%, 874 Votes)
- Male (18%, 196 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,070
Poll voting closes at midnight Pacific on Wednesday, October 28, 2009.
- Lunch in a Box forum discussions about “Social implications for men” and “Bentos for Hubbys“
- Poll results: How long does it take you to pack a lunch? (poll closed)
- Poll results: What containers do you pack lunches in? (poll closed)
- Poll results: Where are your lunches eaten? (poll closed)
- Poll results: Why do you pack bentos? (poll closed)
- Archive of all polls on Lunch in a Box
- Bento FAQ and Biggie’s list of top speed tips, tutorials and reviews
Published by Biggie on September 29th, 2009 tagged poll | 31 Comments »
There aren’t many bento cookbooks written in English, so of course I’m curious when a new one comes out. I’m a big fan of Japanese-language cookbooks for their glanceable step-by-step photos and intuitive graphic presentation of complex material. Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go, newly published by Japan Publications Trading’s Boutique-Sha, really captures the essence of fun, kids-oriented Japanese bento cookbooks.
As I was leafing through it, though, something started to seem oddly familiar. A quick browse through my kitchen bookshelf revealed why I was experiencing deja vu: it’s a straight translation of the same publisher’s Japanese-language cookbook Ichinenju Yakudatsu Tsuen Obento: Daisukina Kondate ga Ippai: (“Children’s Bentos that are Helpful Year-round: Lots of Favorite Menus”), with identical photos, layout, and text.
Now, there are both good and bad aspects to a straight translation of a bento cookbook written for the Japanese market. It’s extremely well suited for bento enthusiasts or Japanophiles already familiar with Japanese food, but may miss the mark for others… Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on September 10th, 2009 tagged bento, decorative, for kids, review | 32 Comments »
Today I’ve got two lunches that represent both ends of the bento spectrum: one is fast and simple, the other is time-consuming decorative food art. My usual preference is for the fast and easy bento made through speedy prep techniques and leftovers, but once or twice a year I go the extra mile for a holiday lunch. Think of it like a birthday cake: even if you make cake regularly, you probably don’t put as much effort into decorating each unless it’s for a special occasion.
I realize that by posting one of my rare ornate lunches right after recent bento articles in the New York Times and the Globe and Mail I’m at risk of falling into a fussy stereotype. Maybe I should reread Need for Speed: A Mommy’s Lunch Manifesto? Anyway, I cut myself a break when I remember the wide variety of real-life special occasion bentos I saw at my son’s old Japanese immersion preschool and read about other parents’ lunchtime adventures on the Lunch in a Box online community forum.
I have to admit that although I get a feeling of accomplishment once I finish an elaborate creation like the one above, I do feel time pressure while I’m making it and wonder, “Why bother?” Am I a bad attitude mom? Guilty as charged! The simpler lunch below was made quickly with the leftovers from the fancier one above, and is much more my pace for an average school day.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Fried shrimp (recipe forthcoming), steamed broccoli with vinaigrette dressing, round onigiri rice balls (stuffed with Gohan Desu Yo! seaweed paste and decorated with strips of nori seaweed), wrapped triangle cheese, grapes, and kiwifruit.
Morning prep time: 15 minutes, using frozen rice and fried shrimp left over from the shrimp rolls the day before. In the morning I assembled the rice balls, nuked a couple florets of broccoli in my microwave mini steamer, and peeled/sliced the kiwifruit. (Read on for the full post. with details on the fish-shaped sushi lunch..) Read the rest of this entry »