#3 – Bento

This is a simple bento that my host mother makes for me when we go out on our day trips. On the left is beef, a few chopped onions (sometimes it’s green beans) in the middle and egg on the right, all on top of a bed of good ol’ Japanese sticky rice. It’s so simple but so tasty, I usually gobble the whole thing up like a vacuum cleaner in a matter of minutes.

Bento come  in many different styles, ranging to the simple, to the elaborate, and of course, the cute.

Like with most foods in Japan, there are regional specialties, but most famous are the eki-bento which are unique bento sold only at each particular train station.

Generally speaking, bento are based on rice with meat and vegetables to supplement it. They’re normally stored in hard boxes to prevent squashing of the rice. People usually carry home-made bento with their own chopsticks too. The whole thing is held inside a furoshiki – a large cloth used to wrap the box and make it easier to hold.

Bento are a far cry above the old sandwiches, crisps and juice pack I used to get as a child. I can definitely taste the effort that my host mother puts into making them for me. “Itadakimasu!” (“thanks for the food!”) is never more appropriate than when I’m about to tuck into a bento.


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