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Japanese ‘bento’ culture

 

By FLORO MERCENE

 

BENTO is a part of Japanese culture and is gaining popu­larity all over the world. It is not just a daily meal packed in a box, but sometimes is art, other times is a place to express your love to your husband/wife and children. Bento box is filled with joy and pleasure! There are also many catering restaurants and fancy Japanese-style restaurants that can respond to events such as group tours or memorial services where large quantities of and cer­tain levels of luxurious diet bento are required.

A proper bento lunch is crafted with care and should be complete meal with a variety of tastes, textures, and food groups. It is a meal with attention to detail and balance of ingredients. The Japanese are known for their ability to make use of every last bit of space, and lunchboxes are no exception – the meal is packed neatly and tightly into small square or rectangular shape, making it easy for chil­dren and busy office workers to transport.

The basic bento in Japan is meant to be eaten at room tem­perature, and is still very tasty. Japonica-origin rice, generally eaten in Japan, tastes relatively good even when it becomes cold (after cooked). Traditional Japanese bento comes with rice, seafood, and meat as a side dish, and tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables) and is pre­pared by each family. Preparing bento used to be one of the most important roles for housewives, however, a bento store which specialized in takeout bento or convenience stores emerged in the late 1980’s. In a convenience store, you could request to warm a bento in a microwave oven. Meanwhile, bento has also become available at department stores and supermarkets. These created a new trend of “taking a bento home to eat.”

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