"Bento" is Japanese for a meal packed in a box, and is essentially the Japanese version of a Western lunchbox. However, a bento is more than just a packed lunch. As with most Japanese food, emphasis is placed on food aesthetics and presentation. It is common for Japanese mothers to make elaborate and cute bento for their children to take to school. There are even contests held for the best charaben/kyaraben bento (bento with food shaped like cartoon characters).
A traditional Japanese bento consists of rice, meat/fish and several vegetable side dishes, with a ratio of 4:2:1 (4 parts carb, 2 parts protein and 1 part other (usually vegetables). I don't usually follow this ratio, nor are my bentos just filled with Japanese food. I do, however, try to keep to the spirit of a nicely presented bento containing a balance of carb, meat and vegetables.
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Kyaraben (Character Bento)
March 2009 Bento
Bento Gallery Archive
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