So, for a few posts, I will dedicate some time to the people who have dedicated their time to their kids and then to passing on ideas and advice to others when it comes to bento building.
First up is Mari Miyazawa who's internet blog e-obento was one of the first I came across. With the help of Babelfish, you can understand quite alot on her site. But more to the point I discovered she has written a few books. The one I purchased is called "Fantasic Lunchbox" (111 pages), and I found it only on amazon.jp (amazon Japan).
What makes this book fun is that even though I was unable to understand what has been written, I could easily get tons of ideas on how to create new and interesting combinations of food. Some are quite straight forward whereas others are almost impossibile to understand or replicate since not all kinds of food stuffs are available where I am (or maybe where you are).
The book is very well organised. It starts out by presenting bentos by season meaning first lunch boxes with a spring theme (for example certain flowers or events which take place in the spring time), then into summer (with a fantastic bridal bento), into fall with it's harvest themes then finally into winter with christmas symbols and santa too.
There are then sections dedicated to color and all the different foods used to achieve certain chromatic additions to the lunch boxes. Chopped up pickles and avocado for two different tones of green, chopped up ham for pink and scrambled egg for yellow and so on.
Then she divides the book into special events such as the first day of school complete with boys or girls in school uniforms and backpaks. Birthdays, sports events, anniversaries, arrival of a newborn, housewarming and holidays. Each is presented as an actual bento in that one part is often full of food with no particular design and the other half of the bento has the design or is the visual part of the presentation. As I've shown in previous posts, most bentos are two-tiered so it makes sense that the two parts are shown in the book to complete the idea of the entire lunch.
Part of the book is techniques and tools as well as particular ingredients. She shows how to use the same cookie cutters to achieve different shapes or animals. She has an entire section devoted to eggs, meat cutlets and another to fish paste. Here is one of those ingredients which is tough to find. Fish paste is usually white fish pressed into a block. It's sold in many shapes and sizes and even pre-prepared manga characters. Here is an example of Hello Kitty fish paste used in making sushi (thanks to Hello Kitty Hell - this guy really hates Hello Kitty)
The fish paste is pressed into blocks. When cut one way it will come out as the manga face or whatever the design is but if cut horizontally can be used for other color combinations. Mari shows many ways to use it - even as minature bento kimonos. Really fantastic.
An entire section is then dedicated to the most important staple of the japanese diet - rice. Even here the creativity in the presentation of mundane rice onigiri is amazing.
I highly reccommend purchasing this book and have high hopes that these books will be translated one day. A new book has come out and to be honest I'm quite tempted. Will have to wait till Christmas I suppose....
and here is today's bento (from Mari's site e-obento - please check it out !)
Nothing better than Halloween themes !!!!!!!! Boooo!