Friday, October 3, 2008

Food as Art: Bento Box creations

What is dearly devoted currently reading? 

I got a big kick out of reading  Face Food: the Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes. Christopher Salyers documents "charaben," the Japanese art of creating character-themed bento boxes. Visually lavish and more often, nutritious, these lunches were a way for Japanese parents to show their love to their kids (and make them eat their veggies). All I can squeal is, "How kawaii!" It's food porn meets Japanese culture. Seriously! They are almost too beautiful to eat. The book isn't so much as a DIY guide but a photo book dedicated to showing off the charabens parents have made.  This is a great, little coffee book to share with friends for creative food inspiration. I just wish the book had a step-by-step look at how these parents crafted their creations ~ videos anyone? 
A small Q+A interview is included with each charaben maker. I've included my favorite excerpts below: 
Benry and Asko from Tokyo Gas
Made by Risa
ingredients: broccoli, cheese, cherry tomato, egg, fried chicken,green beans, ham, imitation crab, macaroni, rice sausage, seaweed, spinach, yam potato

Describe a typical charaben-making day's schedule:
"I look inside my fridge and think of a character I can make with whatever is in there. I start making charaben at 6:00 and finish by 7:30 at the latest."

Made by Risa
ingredients: cheese, cherry tomato, cucumber, edamame, fish cake, fried pasta, mayo, okra, beef patty, pumpkin seasoning, qual egg, rice, seaweed, teriyaki chicken, tomato skin

Three Lil Pigs
Made by Makiko Ogawa
ingredients: black beans, broccoli, carrot, cherry tomato, fish sausage, fried chicken, ketchup, lemon, quail egg, rice, sausage, seaweed, sour plum rice seasoning

What is charaben to you?
"A communication tool between my child and I and between my child and his classmates. Charaben opens up many unique opportunities for communication and happiness to share with others. Charaben is also a challenge as to how much I can express within the boundaries of an obento."

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