Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I’m not a terribly difficult person to understand. In fact, I’m the opposite: I’m very simple. Something it never takes anybody very long to learn is that I’m obsessed with Asian culture. Generally speaking, I just like culture, and we’ll eventually cover all the things that have caught my attention, from vegetable and tea dyeing tribal-inspired tunics, to the spice based spa teachings of Indonesian “jamu”—which, by the way, I heavily advocate.
Today, however, we return to the green principles everyone knows as “the 3 Rs”, as always: taking care of the planet while taking care of yourself!
There are many things my mother unknowingly taught me that lend themselves well to a green lifestyle, even though she is far from green. My mother taught me to be creative with food; as a vegetarian raising two children, she needed to find interesting alternatives to cucumber sandwiches—and voila! My dedication to the bento box was born.
Colourful combinations of carrot sticks and rice, with what, to this day, I only know by the name of “mopple”, set me apart at school lunchtime and it simply stuck.
“Bento” is simply a term that means boxed lunch. You can buy bento boxes online or at Asian specialty stores. They come in a variety of shapes, styles and sizes—from sleek and utilitarian, to cute and colourful. Most have inner partitions for food groups. I love them because they’re reusable, and are traditionally wrapped in a scarf that doubles as a napkin or place mat; and in this scarf-wrapping, you can (gasp!) pack your own utensils!
Typically, a bento meal consists of the following:
• protein (meat, tofu, or eggs—depending on your diet)
Making for a balanced meal. Sometimes a bento box also carries a sweet dessert. ♥ Desserts can range from simple cupcakes or scones, to one of my favourites: honey and sesame fried pumpkin.
But, by no means, limit yourself to this, or even to Asian cooking. I often pack my bento with colourful Indian foods. One of my favourite examples of what might go into a western bento box was in the new Nancy Drew movie.
Explore different food styles so as not to get bored! Because I am gluten-intolerant, a lot of rice goes into my bento boxes, but I never get bored because I’ve discovered many different varieties. I never use “Uncle Ben’s”, and it’s nothing personal, I simply find it very bland. I use a lot of sushi rice, as well as “Lundberg” rice blends. I love their “wild” blend and even more so their “black japonica” blend, which once cooked has a beautiful mahogany colour!
There’s nothing better than a beautiful and colourful lunch waiting for you to keep you dining in!