My husband, dear man that he is, knows that as much as I rail against the impossibly small-size (and ridiculously high cabinets) of the kitchen in our Kumamoto home, I do love to spend a significant portion of my time in there. And with a four-year-old that now attends school four or even five days a week, making bentos for her school lunch. So it was with great excitement that I sat down with hubby’s Christmas gift to me, Everyday Bento.
Everyday Bento is written by Wendy Copley, the blogger behind Wendolonia, a popular bento website. From what I gather, Wendy has never been to Japan but has been inspired to make bentos ever since she received a bento box as a gift from her husband. One of the latest posts on her website actually feted the 1000th bento for one of her sons. Pretty impressive, in my opinion!
The Everyday Bento book is full of good ideas to spruce up your kid’s (or your own) lunchbox offerings. The book opens with a few clear sections on the theory of bentos (color, nutritional variety, packing tips) and the types of boxes and accessories commonly used. It then continues with three sections for kids’ bentos, broken up into categories like “Bentos for Busy Mornings” and “Bentos for all Seasons”. A final section gives a dozen ideas for adult bentos (though some, like the Flower Garden bento, are still pretty whimsical).
Overall, there is a lot to love about this book and it would make a great addition to any kitchen. The two caveats I have are the lack of vegetables in some of the offerings and the obvious American slant to the lunches. Now clearly, Wendy cannot be faulted for that. She is an American catering to an American audience, but for those of us overseas, the reliance on bread-based lunches and the use of items such as pretzels, crackers and other snacky foods not easily available make some of these lunches a bit tough to replicate. As a foreigner living in Japan, I’d love to see a few more rice-based options … especially since my Japan-born daughter now refuses sandwiches of any kind in her bento, saying “Sensei doesn’t understand them”.
Thanks to Everyday Bento, I now have some concrete ideas for my daughter’s daily bento and I’ll be following Wendy on her blog now. The book is a Tuttle Publication, and can easily be purchased on Amazon.