Another bento blog. What is bento you might ask? Fundamentally it is a packed lunch, but the word and its origins are packed with a long cultural history that I won’t dwell on here.
Mind the Gap
Home is currently a village north of Cambridge, UK. Most of my lunch.log entries are sent from my workplace in Cambridge itself.
In some cultures it is commonly believed that it is best to include an assortment of colours in every meal. Either by happy coincidence or intentional concern for well-being, including as many different (naturally) coloured foods as you can may give you a good variety of nutrients – and variety is the key for a healthy diet:
Rule 25: Eat your colors. The idea that a healthy plate of food will feature several different colors is a good example of an old wives’ tale about food that turns out to be good science too. The colors of many vegetables reflect the different antioxidant phytochemicals they contain—anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, carotenoids.
– Michael Pollan (Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual)
TLDR; it looks purty.
Wait, I mean why Colo-u-r?
I write in a mangled version of The Queen’s English, as I did hail from ‘Straya (read: Australia). So in addition to just pathetic reading comprehension (read more books, kids!) and my rights as an aussie to fucking punctuate with profanity, I’ll spell it colour. And while I’m at it: capsicum, eggplant, zucchini and thongs.
Personal Lunch History
Warning: long rant ahoy!
Australia in the 80s from what I remember wasn’t the cultural mishmash you would expect today – no one could be bothered to ask you where you were from these days as the likely answer would cause an impromptu musical rendition of “Down Under” by Men at Work by anyone within a 50 metre radius. Ok that was an exaggeration, but your heritage did get you more attention back in the past if you were not white Australian – general ignorance on different cultures was higher then when you rarely see foreigners.
I myself grew up with similar experiences with lunch boxes as Marvin describes. For a while, my mother would pack lunch for her two school-aged children (thankfully in plain lunchboxes.) In retrospect, it must of been hard being part of a 2-income family where she took on the extra responsibility for keeping her daughters well fed. I was never bullied over my lunch, but at times I noted peculiar reactions or questions regarding them and thankfully my parents didn’t send us off to a rough school. But the divide was there: it seemed like I was the only kid eating my lunch with utensils while the other kids were able to scoff them down on the run or have a hot pie pre-ordered at the canteen. It wasn’t a sudden turn to adhere to the norm – the process was gradual as my mother made our lunches less and less as we got older. We started packing them ourselves, demanding ‘snack pack’ items during grocery shopping, or ask for some money for pre-ordering a heated meal. Our lunches became very simple and with the rise of convenient pre-packaged food sometimes full of junk; at one stage my sister started packing only mandarins as she didn’t bother spending more time on them.
The pattern continued almost completely through high school for me. At this stage there was a significant increase of cultural awareness and people discovered more world cuisines to whet their palate with. When I discovered sushi, I was fascinated. It was in my senior years of high school where I rediscovered packing a lunch through making sushi occasionally for my lunchtimes. It reawakened my love for rice.
With the internet making more information available, I started constructing healthier balanced lunches for Yvan and myself. It was only until 2009 I started to photograph and truly document them.
TL;DR: I pack a lunch occasionally, for some dude and myself and put up the pics. Since you know, pics or GTFO.
Most photography was shot with a Nexus 4
Nexus One or HTC Desire HD and on the odd occassion a Lumix DMC-LX2 (though old entries are likely captured with the compact camera). I may (but am normally not bothered – read: lazy) to touch up photos with Picasa RIP Linux Picasa, I used you in the past to touch up some pics. Since the start of 2013 the majority of phone photos are taken with a Nexus 4 and are directly uploaded to my Google+ lunch.log.
As *should* be considered normal, I reserve the rights to the photos (as I took them myself!) unless I post someone else’s in which credits will be stated. It annoys me to no end in stating the obvious..
Most of the past entries were reconstructed from web archives and photo backups as the original gallery data was all lost when our web server died in August 2011. RIP.
This is the first dedicated ‘blogified’ version of my lunch box and related recipes with a custom theme ‘ColourBox’ (which is still a work in progress.)