One of the things I was most intrigued about when I moved to Japan was its bento culture. I was astonished by the amount of effort that Japanese people put into their packed lunches. My Japanese friend once told me that they look forward to their bento all day and opening it is a pleasant surprise or treat. It wasn’t long before I was completely immersed in this bento culture and looked forward to making my own bento every night for work the following day. A Typical Japanese Bento It will have something from each of the food groups, including carbohydrates such as rice, noodles or bread; meat or fish; and vegetables and fruit. Since the bento box is divided into different compartments, various dishes can be stored in the box together, giving a nutritionally balanced meal that looks appealing. Japanese parents tend to make their children’s bento very animated and colourful. There are simple ways to do this, like using a cookie cutter to make vegetables and fruit into different shapes such as flowers or stars. Apart from the standard packed-lunch-type bento, there is also the bento that is served in Japanese restaurants and gives the customer a taste of a few different dishes at one time. These restaurant bentos are very popular outside of Japan and reasonably priced.
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