Recently, I have been practicing the Japanese art of goshiki, and trying to employ all of the colors of the rainbow into our meals. The Japanese believe that the color balance is necessary for a well-balanced — and aesthetically pleasing — meal.
Tonight, I whipped up some chicken dinosaurs (they were out of breasts at the store, so we went frozen) and dumplings (both brown), paired with a cheery salad of ripe tomatoes (red) and bright bell peppers (yellow) drizzled with balsamic vinegar (purple), next to cheese slices (orange) and laver (green). ROY G BIV is here to stay!
To those who know me, my obsession for cooking, food and all things realted is no secret. I love to spend hours in the kitchen, slowly trying out new foods, stirring sauces, listening to food crackle in hot oil. It’s my personal therapy, tranquil time when I am left alone with my thoughts.
Aside from being a food fanatic, I am an avid art fan. I studied art history in college, and even attempted a physical class or two — but my paintbrush swipes lack finesse, and I seem to have missed out on the Paradise musical genes. I’ve always been envious of my friends to whom creating art is a second nature, but I feel like I may finally have found an appropriate outlet that combines my interests in delectable nibblies and beautiful creations.
A few years ago, my sister Betsy gave me a book called “The Vegan Lunchbox,” a collection of photos and recipes a woman took of her son’s lunch, which she packed into a bento-style box. Since then — most recently in the past year or so — I have scoured the internet in hopes of finding more information about these magical little creations called bentos.
In Japan, mothers consider bento-boxing an art form, a reflection of your mothering skills. I remember reading an article about it in my Anthropology of Food class at UCSB and being fascinated by the competition between these ladies to have the most elaborately decorated food for their toddlers.
I challenge anyone who has searched for images of bento boxes to argue that these are not exquisite forms of edible art. I’m a firm believer in the fact that children will grow to love and appreciate food they have a hand in creating, or that looks inviting, which is something these boxes provide.
Since I am childless for now, the decorating of bentos is something I would do for kicks. The box sizes also provide wonderful portion-control, and will cut down on the calories as long as you provide enough variety in every packed meal.
There are bento blogs that I regard as required reading now, including Lunch in a Box, Just Bento, Bento for Beginners and Latin ConFusion, among others. These bloggers are informative, creative and provide a real foundation for the bento beginners.
Since we have lunch provided for us here, I have decided to hold off until we get back to San Francisco to delve deeper into this path — but that won’t stop me from trying to find stores with bento boxes and accessories during our trip to Tokyo next week.
Wish me luck — Japantown in SF apparently has a wonderful selection of boxes and accessories, but nothing could beat the real deal, straight from the home country itself.