Making Bento and Charabens: The Japanese's Crafty Way to Eat
The Edible Art
Last time, I was planning of 'redeeming' my old photo blog site at tumblr. To do so, I have to think of a theme about something I have not yet posted or encountered before. And since I was hunger-inspired that time, I decided to search for food photography in the internet. Everything that comes out in my searches were kind of ordinary, not to mention, BORING. So, I narrowed down the search by typing in "cute food" as keywords. Who would have thought that I'd be able to find a LITERALLY cute food.
Further readings took me to the origin of these things I'd like to call "food artworks". Just like what you see in the photo, they are dishes arranged neatly in a food box known as the Bento. Each Bento serving guarantees its consumer a well-balanced and nutritious meal. It is a container of food comprised commonly with vegetables, meats, fruits, rice, and fish. For the Japanese (who are, by the way, the proponent of such food art), Bento is their way of expressing their creativity. They care much about designing these wonderful food boxes and treat them as their very own art projects. Such craze explains why there are wide range of bento-making tools and accessories available in their local market.
As mentioned earlier, the Japanese use these cute Bentos as an avenue of expressing their artistic skills. Along with decorating them, these crafted meals can also be transformed to whatever character they want them to be. They can make riceballs resembling three little pigs, panda bears, or even turn an ordinary mushroom in to a pink and smiling cartoon image. They even create meals inspired by their favorite anime characters. The possibilities are endless. The limits are just within the boundaries of imagination! These creations are popularly known as the Charaben ('kyara-ben), a contracted term for "character bento".
I also found out that the primary purpose of making these charabens is to engage young children to eat healthy. Since toddlers tend to be very picky and neglectful in terms of eating their meals due to play, this is something Japanese moms devised to obtain their children's attention for food consumption. This initiative eventually evolved in to a national interest prompting nationwide contests for Bento designing.
Funny how an online endeavor of just finding photos of cute food for my tumblr site turned out to be a new discovery on my part. I must say, I am loving these edible art! :)