Dot's Foody Ramblings (girlfrie_d) wrote,
Dot's Foody Ramblings

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Bento culture, the unholy union of foodie & otaku

It's been a while since my last entry in this here food blog, but I have been uninspired and out of practice as of late. I ought to have had something interesting and food-related to say about the three weeks I spent in the Philippines this past winter . . . perhaps another food-post will come when I've finally stopped being too lazy to upload the billion pictures from said trip to the Motherland.

Today's entry, and the new icon that goes with it, was brought on by a strong urge I have been experiencing lately: the urge to join the cult of bento.

Now, I'm not normally big on cuteness for the sake of cuteness, and I usually kind of detest food with faces (you can blame Threadless for that). But I can't help but be attracted to the bento stuff because it's all about playing with your food -- both while you make it and while you eat it. And no, I don't plan on becoming one of those psycho stay-at-home moms who blog their competitive bento designs on a daily basis. At least, I don't plan on staying at home, being a mom, and "bentoing" competitively. Design, well, how can I resist?

In fact, there are tons of pluses to the bento lifestyle besides having cute, accessorized food. One big part of the bento philosophy, at least in the western examples, is balanced nutrition. You're encouraged to pack energy-dense foods, use plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, and think thrice about whether your fatty leftovers will keep well at room temperature. Those relatively tiny bento boxes are great for portion control, too.

Another bento bonus would be the potential savings, crucial "in this time of economic crisis." There would be initial capital investment in bento kits, and if I really wanna get crazy, in accessories like tiny soy-sauce bottles and cute little "furoshiki" lunch bags. After that, though, I'd be able to make at least a week's worth of lunches on $10-$20 spent at an Asian market.

The biggest challenge I face in entering the bento world is the discipline that it will take. I have a very low-maintenance morning routine that rarely exceeds a half-hour and doesn't often involve much more than rolling out of bed. In short, I'm lazy. Thus, I'm a little daunted by the amount of discipline, budgeting, planning, and actual elbow-grease that even semi-regular bento preparation would take. But since I'm headlong into an obsession, I'm sure I'll have that same manic morning energy that happens when you're a kid who's going to Disneyland. After a night of anticipating the morning, I'll jump out of bed at the sound of my alarm, run to the kitchen with my bento plans and get creating. Hopefully I'll do that often enough to form a habit.

So to start, I've been studying a lot of bento guides and blogs online, and I've been window-shopping at JList. Ugh, I know JList has a reputation (you won't believe some of the things they carry -- NSFW) but they also have a very extensive collection of bento boxes, books, and accessories. A trip to Mitsuwa is in order, certainly, but the range of potential deals and super-cute designs online is tough to resist.

Hopefully this will actually come together, not like my other half-plans borne out of obsession. ^_^
Tags: asian, budget, cooking boner, future-kitchen, obsession: bento
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