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a frog the size of texas

June 4th, 2009

12:54 pm - 501 Bento Box Lunches

I ordered the book 500 Bento Lunches: 500 Unique Recipes for Brilliant Bento (Powell's link) from one of the resellers on Amazon the other week, and it arrived a couple of days ago. I've been going slowly through it, reading the description of each bento, since then.

A note first: the links go to a book that's called 500 Bento Box Lunches. The actual book in my hands is titled 501 Bento Box Lunches. Apparently they added a lunch at some point after the cover comps were done and the info sent to Amazon, or the American edition is missing one recipe from the UK version, which is what I have.

At any rate, don't expect, like I for some reason did, that the recipes referred to in the title are recipes to produce individual foods to go into the bento box. What they are is 501 different bentos, photographs of them, and the directions for assembling them. There are recipes for individual dishes here and there throughout the book, but for the most part you get ingredient lists like "Serving leftover spaghetti; 2 mini yellow bell pepper; 1 slice mozzarella; pinch black sesame seeds; handful salad greens; 1 leftover cooked Italian sausage; 1 mini orange bell pepper; 1 mini red bell pepper. 2-tier bento box." with instructions on how to assemble them to create the bento in the photograph.

There's a huge variety of bento lunches here, organized into broad categories: Art Bento and Cute Bento, which contain charaben, the sorts of bentos a lot of people think about when they hear the term - food with faces, scenes, etc. Colorful Bento, the section I'm still in the middle of, contains more non-picture/cute bentos that focus more on the foods than on the artistic aspect. Traditional Bento focuses more on Japanese foods, Stylish Bento is ... er, I think it's more focused on artistic arrangement and design, but I can't really tell the difference between them and Colorful Bento. The book is rounded out with Holidays and Special Occasions Bento which presents bento with holiday and occasional themes in the design or in the foods.

The contributors are mostly bento bloggers from the U.S., with a few from the U.K., Canada, and Japan, so most of the ingredients are easily obtainable in the States, and a lot of the foods aren't specifically Japanese - there's salads, sandwiches, pasta, and so on.

It's a good book for getting ideas for bentos. I'm not particularly inclined to exactly replicate any of them (especially not the charaben), but I'd pick and choose from the various foods on offer to create my own, suited to my own tastes. Also, not all the bentos are presented in traditional bento boxes - there's a few in Tupperware/Gladware type boxes, which illustrate how it's not the box that makes the bento. (Although it's funny to see lunches and think "Say! I own that box!" or "Say! I recently sold that box!")

Non-meat-eaters, rejoice! There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan bento, and even most of the ones that contain meat are easily adjusted to substitute a protein source of your choosing.

As an aside: the charaben tend not to appeal to me as foods because I'm focused on taste, and creating faces, scenes, etc. often requires layering foods together in combinations that just don't appeal to me, like cheese, ham, and nori on rice. However, most of the bentos in those sections contain more foods than just the ones forming the image, and I expect I'll get ideas from the parts that don't involve the picture.

So: If you're into bento, or into spicing up your or someone else's packed lunches, recommended! It's supposed to be released in the U.S. sometime this month, but if you don't want to wait you can get a used U.K edition from one of the Amazon resellers.
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03:09 pm - Poll time!

I just got a DA note asking if I was taking requests. I replied politely saying no, just commissions at this time.

Any bets as to the reply?

What do you think the response will be?

No response at all
A polite "Darn, thanks!"
i dont pay bye
A rant about how everyone owes the requester art because they don't have money
Mello's fabulous ass
Bishounen pie
Another in-joke from telophase's journal
Some other response (to be listed in the comments)

03:43 pm - OH EVEN BETTER

A comment I just got on the Grimmjow and ... Orihime? pic:
Thats the most pathetically fucked pairing in the world, fuck you bastard, die in hell!
Hmmm. What response?
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