April 27, 2004

Bento Love

Bento lunches

Mizuko Ito spends every morning in Los Angeles lovingly making bento lunch boxes for her two children and then documents her creations on her moblog. You immediately notice the care that goes into each balanced meal and how healthy the selections are compared to what we might have had for lunch everyday in grade school. You'll also notice, because she is Japanese, her children's lunches are heavily influenced by the Japanese palette. I don't know about you, but quail eggs, shumai, broccoli with mayonnaise, tamagoyaki, maki-zushi and tofu weren't regular stars in my brown paper sack. Now I may have happily eaten these dishes at home, but there was no way I'd let my Mom pack these things in my school lunch. Twenty years ago the average American wasn't familiar with such exotic and international food combinations, and if I were caught at school with Shrimp Chips (one of my favorites that my Mom tried to stuff into my lunch box on more than one occasion), my desperate attempts to fit in would've been futile. It's sad, really, how mean kids can be about unknown cultures, and it's even sadder that I cared so much. So I continually demanded the pimento cheese sandwiches with a side of cheese doritos, oh yeah and the string cheese stick. How I wish now I had taken the Tofu Fried Rice and Miso Soup for lunch instead.

It's nice to know that by the time I have kids, the lunches I might pack for them (no matter how "international" they might get) would never be a source of shame for them; that by then, people of all generations will have been exposed to and accepting of all different kinds of food cultures. Actually, it's probably already like that in school cafeterias across America now. I imagine that if you walked into a cafeteria today with Sushi rolls and Edimame for lunch they'd let you sit at the cool kids' table for sure.

Posted by yi at April 27, 2004 1:32 AM

Thanks I just came across this site while I was looking through the web for some vocab pictures I can use when teaching the little kids English. It was so funny and also interesting to know what Western people think about Japanese bentos. I used to live in the US for some time when I was young, but yes, I don't remember myself taking bentos to school (I might have taken japanese snacks though)...but the interesting thing is, I used to - and still do, like brown paper lunch bags with an whole apple or a plum or a carrot stick inside. After I came back to Japan, I still brought those "whole" fruit and vegetable stuff to school (in fact, I still do). Kids around thought I was some sort of a wild animal!!! Seriously, maybe it is still hard for eating habbits to become totally international!

Posted by: Takako at March 6, 2005 6:48 AM
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