If you've heard more and more about bento lately, you have come to the right place to learn about it. But what exactly is it? Is it a culinary speciality? Is it a way of eating lunch? Indeed, when we hear the words “bento” and “lunchbox,” our minds immediately go to food and lunch boxes. But did you know that bento is more than just a lunchbox? It's actually a culinary speciality in Japan, and it encompasses many different types of dishes that are served at lunchtime. So, what are the benefits of Bento lunchbox? What are the types of Bento lunch boxes?
WHAT IS BENTO?
Japanese cuisine is famous for its variety and creativity, which can be seen in the different types of bento boxes offered for sale in Japanese grocery stores. The main ingredients are usually vegetables and meat dishes with sauces, but fish and seafood options are also available. Bento boxes can also include side dishes such as pickles or salads.
Bento is a single-serving, packaged meal carried by the eater already assembled and ready to eat. It's like a lunch box but with a lot more specifics and history. Bento (べんとう) is a word that means “lunch” in Japanese. It's a kind of meal that is often served in a box or container made of rice-cracker paper or other ingredients; this container is usually compartmentalized with one or more floors, which allows you to take a quick meal with you to eat it outside. And what is more special about Bento lunch boxes is that there are traditionally packed by hand using decorative chopsticks called nagashi-iri (長しい刃), which have long tips that allow them to be used as baskets for holding food items while being transported between home and work. The most common items included in a bento box include rice balls, meatballs, Miso soup (a soup made with fermented soybeans), sushi (raw fish or seafood prepared with vinegar), cuttlefish balls wrapped with seaweed and cooked rice balls coated with sweetened bean paste. After discovering the Bento Lunch box, you'll want to say goodbye to your Tupperware that turns your meal into mush, abandon your industrial salad in its unique packaging or even stop buying that much too-expensive sandwich in the bakery.
THE HISTORY OF THE BENTO BOX
The Japanese have always had a love affair with food and eating, and this has resulted in some unique traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. One such tradition is the use of a bento box for lunch or dinner. And the history of the bento box is a long one. It all started with the Japanese, whose culture has been around for thousands of years. Indeed, in Japan, the tradition of compartmentalizing your food in a box to easily eat your meal outside dates back to the 12th century. Originally, the bento was composed of rice and dried fish which were later replaced by vinegar rice balls (onigiri). Nowadays, Japanese bento boxes can be made up of all kinds of foods, depending on your tastes and desires.
In ancient times, people would eat their meals out of bowls or plates that were made from wood, stone, or pottery. In addition to serving as containers for their food, these dishes were also used to serve tea or other beverages as well as to keep utensils in place, so they didn’t get lost during meal times. Over time, people began using boxes made from paper instead of wooden ones because they were cheaper and easier to store when not in use. These boxes were usually stacked on top of each other until they were full enough to be carried home by one person; then, they would be taken apart again once they reached their destination so that each person could carry only one box at a time home with them!
In the Edo period, this lunch box was associated with special events such as hanami (picnic under the cherry blossoms) or Hina matsuri (girl's party). In traditional Japanese theatre, kabuki in Japanese, makunouchi bento was eaten during intermissions when the curtain (maku) was down. Japanese bento was usually eaten under a cherry blossom on the occasion of Hanami.
Types of Bento Lunch boxes
There are many types of bento lunch boxes, and each one has its own advantages. The main difference between them is the size of the box and the number of compartments inside. The most common types of bento lunch boxes are:
1. Kyaraben bent
Generally intended for children, the kyaraben bento means "character bento". These are lunch boxes in which the rice and other foods in the bento box are shaped and designed to look like popular anime, manga, or video game characters. Besides adding a bit of colour to the standard lunch box, the cute characters also help encourage kids to eat foods they don't particularly like. Besides famous people, kyarabens can also include animals or natural scenery to reflect the current season or holiday. You will also find kawaii Bentos in this category of the Japanese lunch boxes.
The term "kyaraben" is derived from Japanese words that mean "character", "characteristic", and "characteristic". The idea behind these character-themed lunch boxes is that they help make a child more interested in eating their lunchtime meal by adding some fun to it!
Kyaraben lunches are not just for kids. Adults can enjoy them too! They make great gifts for friends and family members who love anime and manga.
2. The Ekiben Bento Box
The word Ekiben is a combination of eki (station) and bento. These high-quality lunch boxes are sold at major stations, including on the platform and on trains. The ekiben is a complete meal served in a plastic, wooden, or paper box, accompanied by a set of disposable chopsticks. The lunch box ingredients generally reflect the staples of the region in which you purchase it. Some stations are even recognized nationally for the quality of their bento boxes. Similar meals have become popular in other East Asian countries, especially Taiwan.
The ekiben was originally introduced to Japan from China during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Still, it only became widely popular after World War II when it was introduced as cheap food for soldiers working on railway construction projects. After its introduction to Japan, it quickly caught on with Japanese consumers as well as foreign visitors who saw it as an affordable and healthy alternative to western fast food restaurants or convenience stores that made sandwiches and burgers available 24 hours a day.
3. Bento Makunouchi