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THE NEXT WORKSHOP WILL BE HELD IN HUNGARIAN: 2020.09.13 (SUNDAY)
11:00 am to 3:00 pm
The history of bento boxes dates back to XII. century Japan, when farmers brought dishes of various vegetables to the fields with them: mostly rice, and fish, which were often placed in their seed pots with small compartments to separate the ingredients. The turning point for Bentos came in the 17th century when it became fashionable to munch on Marunouchi, a type of bento that was sprinkled with sesame seeds and packed with colourful vegetables. This delicacy was served in theatres and had been eaten during breaks of Japanese theatre performances. Centuries later, this type of packaging technique became popular throughout the Far East - the name itself comes from the Chinese word "biàndāng", which means "occasion", while the Japanese word bento means „convenient”.
Today, the whole world has discovered bentos for themselves, and in the ’90s, thanks to the Internet, they clearly became part of the new gastronomic culture. Today, we can run into a thousand examples, but I want to show you how to creatively shape the content of your own bento to your own taste! All the healthy ingredients can be combined to prepare a variety of healthy meals later. I’ll show you my favourite variations of this convenient but healthy homemade lunchbox.
At first glance, bento is a nice little wooden or plastic container that is usually held together by a colourful rubber band. Its decoration and material range from the widest possible spectrum: from small to large, boxes for children and juveniles. Bento is a symbol of care! Of course, one of the most important elements of enjoying food IS care. I take care when I give and “being taken care of” if I get it - provided the food is edible. The more creative and varied the serving, the higher the level of this simple gesture, the more perfect the dish. That's what bento means to me.
I first saw bentos in Tokyo when I made my way through Shinjuku station to Nikko. I noticed these boxes with transparent plastic lids lined up in colourful counters, which were decorated with as many different fish and vegetables as possible. They were affordable, they looked so high-end, I had to have them! The arrangement of vegetables was not random at all - in fact, it is always eye-catching and amazing.
There are certain rules to follow in bento making: there is always a yellow ingredient in the bento - which is usually an egg, red - which is related to appetite and the senses, green - to symbolise nature, brown - for hot food (meat of fish), and white – mostly fine, rounded, sticky sushi rice. Kyaraben is the well-known genre in which almost figurative, artistically demanding elements are included in the box. Flowers, teddy bears, breasts, but anything that can be carved out of beets and cucumbers.
The role of bentos in Japanese culture today is quite significant, and its trend value is enormous. From toddlers to serious businessman, everyone carries this tiny, boxed goodie with them, just like us, Hungarians carry their lunches around in ice cream boxes or mason jars!
Let’s take a step closer to getting to know the secrets of traditional Japanese lunch-making!