The holidays are a time for giving, and in the food blog world that’s come to mean the Menu For Hope food blog annual fundraising campaign, now in its 6th year. Started by Pim of Chez Pim, Menu for Hope raises money for the United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest food aid agency (it raised over US$250,000 over the last three years for the program!). Specifically, this year’s donations will go to the WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P), a new initiative that helps smallholder and low-income farmers supply food to WFP’s global operations, improving farming practices and putting more cash into their pockets.
In Menu for Hope, food bloggers around the world offer a variety of food-related items for the online raffle. Every US$10 you donate earns you one “ticket” to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the campaign, tickets are drawn and results are announced on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18, 2010.
A full list of bid items is will be posted at Chez Pim, and the Western U.S. regional prizes will be shown at Gluten-Free Girl. A mere US$10 gives you a shot at some pretty cool food-related prizes! Check them all out and see what appeals to you.
I’m happy to offer another bento kit for bidding this year, with products courtesy of Skater Company, Japan’s largest manufacturer of bento boxes, and ZESPRI, the New Zealand kiwifruit company. I’ll also give each of the winners a personal tour of San Francisco’s Japantown if you’re in town (details below).
- “Winnie the Pooh Goes Bananas” Bento Box Kit and tour of San Francisco’s Japantown, by Biggie (me).
Pack adorable lunches with unusual Winnie the Pooh food shaping tools and a banana-themed “Putifresh” bento set. The yellow bento set includes a watertight bento box, two matching bags, chopsticks, elastic bento belt and a Zespri “spife” (spoon/knife combo) for packing whole kiwifruit. The tools include a boiled egg shaper, sandwich cutter, onigiri rice ball shaper, vegetable cutter, pancake ring and silicone food cups, all shaped like Winnie the Pooh. The Pooh-themed tools are high quality, direct from the Skater Company in Japan. Make lunch as tasty as your own pot of honey! (prize code UW20)
December 14th, 2009 | Categories: SF Bay Area local, admin, bento, giveaway, shopping | Print This Post | Email this post | 16 Comments »
While watching Shimajiro, a popular Japanese cartoon of a tiger cub that teaches kids little songs, manners and safety, I stumbled across an uncommon variation of the classic Bento Box Song (”Obento Bako no Uta”) that features more Western food — sandwiches! It’s kind of a chant with hand motions referencing food words that sound similar to numbers in Japanese. It’s less of a counting exercise than the original, but fun nonetheless. I also dug up a comedy show riff on the bento box song that Japanese speakers may get a kick out of — the Osaka comedienne in the video clip takes issue with the vagueness of the original lyrics and makes up new ones after bullying her fellow singers.
I don’t want to infringe on the Shimajiro copyright, so I made a quick YouTube video of me singing the song and doing the associated hand motions (what was I thinking? Thanks to my Twitter followers for humoring me!). Full lyrics and an English translation follow. While I was at it, I made a little video for the original Bento Box Song to show the hand motions, and added it to the old post.
November 16th, 2009 | Categories: admin, bento, for kids | Print This Post | Email this post | 26 Comments »
Making inside-out sushi rolls doesn’t have to be all that involved if you’ve got the basic materials and some plastic wrap on hand. Serve plain or decorated like fish to thrill your child (or your inner child), like I did with Bug’s bento lunch for Children’s Day. You can speed this up by using frozen fried shrimp and frozen rice, but a step-by-step recipe for making inside-out shrimp sushi rolls from scratch follows below.
November 9th, 2009 | Categories: decorative, fish or seafood, for kids, onigiri or sushi, recipe | Print This Post | Email this post | 24 Comments »
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
September 29th, 2009 | Categories: poll | Print This Post | Email this post | 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 »