I blame Chris Pitzer.
At the start of the month I was looking at the latest group of photos he’d uploaded onto his Flickr account, and among them were some pictures of his lunch. Or, rather, the bento box lunches his wife made for him. For those unfamiliar with bentos, they’re packaged lunches in Japan that most often involve an amount of artistry in putting the food into the small, compact space of a lunch box. (Some bentos have lots of little containers, others are larger spaces where you have to use your creativity in putting the food inside.)
I mentioned my love of the bentos (as well as Lisa Pitzer’s work in creating Western-style bentos) to Karon, who replied with the news that she’d just recently bought a bento box off of eBay. (Turns out there are a lot of military wives stationed in Japan who decided to make a little money on the side. Makes perfect sense to me. And even without them, well, what isn’t on eBay these days?) So I started browsing, and before I knew it I’d bought two bento boxes for myself.
This morning was my trial run. Last night I’d baked two chicken breasts in a chipotle lime marinade, and saved the second one for today’s lunch. I added it to some leftover rotini from the fridge, and drizzled a little extra marinade over the two this morning when I packed it all up. In the other half of the container, I chopped up an asian pear that I’d bought at a local farmer’s market on Friday, and then cut a granola bar in half and added it to the box (inside a cupcake wrapper as to keep it from getting soaked). Voila!
The end result? Well, first and foremost, the food was very delicious and transported well to work. (I picked containers that are microwave-safe, so they just sat in the fridge until then.) One thing I did learn, though, was that the containers are a little more shallow than I’d have thought. So packing your food in one is a challenge in just how to get enough in there without having to bring a second bento. (I suspect this will ultimately make me eat smaller lunches. That’s not a bad thing, really.) I’m also very relieved the elastic band comes with it, because even after eating a couple of chunks of pear this morning, I could barely get the thing closed. That space fills up fast.
I think I’m going try making another bento for lunch on Friday, but a lot will depend on how much free time I have between now and going to bed on Thursday night. It is fun, though, and it’s making me think about lunch in different ways. That’s ultimately a good thing.
(Click on the images to get larger-and-better views of the bento goodness!)