But being a vegetarian in a largely omnivorous society often means that I have to prepare my own food rather than risk having limited healthy food options when I go to work or for other activities. So packing my own bento lunches arose from need. I started using my cellphone to snap photos of my bento lunches (almost always in my trusty Lock and Lock) only after I realised how unexpectedly aesthetically-pleasing they looked.
One of the best things about the Japanese is that they believe food must be as pleasing to the eyes as they are to the tastebuds and digestive system. Packing food in lunchboxes with many compartments where different items are kept neat, orderly and separate also appealed to my obsessive-compulsive sensibilities.
I don't think I could ever end up becoming one of those dedicated kyaraben bento-makers who spend hours making each meal a work of art. I wouldn't be able to fit it into my hectic schedule, and as an environmentalist, I definitely don't see myself accumulating a large number of plastic portion cups, barans, food markers, cutters and stencils. But I do believe in ensuring that each meal is healthy, balanced and visually appealing.
A selection of bentos past:
17 April 2012
A little tree owl came over for breakfast.
31 July 2012
An unexpectedly aesthetically-pleasing simple lunch bento.
8 Oct 2012
Mondays made better.
Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages -- I'm lovin' it.
1 Nov 2012
Vegetable baos for a change, as I had gone to the night market the night before.
5 Nov 2012
Some stripey pound cake made an incongruous appearance in today's lunchbox... Thanks to Mr Boyfriend who doesn't seem to care if I develop the proportions of an elephant seal.
27 Nov 2012
Dear Pita Bread,
Please stop falling apart on me. It's only 11 a.m. So suck it up. Pull yourself together.
17 Dec 2012
Eat your heart out, Lean P*ckets! I made my own cheese and broccoli wraps!
2 Jan 2013
First bento lunch for 2013.
It didn't turn out looking as well as I had hoped.
Oh well! I still have 363 days to improve my skills.
7 Jan 2013
Quick and easy leftovers-and-odds-and-ends bento.
14 Jan 2013
Because I was a little bored with making and eating sandwiches the conventional way.
The Fortnight That Was:
1 Jan 2013
Bath & Tickwash time for the Kennel A doggies!
It's good to start the New Year clean and fresh. I pray 2013 will be a lucky year for all our forgotten animals in shelters and pounds.
4 Jan 2013
I went to Naga's for dinner and came back with 3 volumes of poetry instead!
Only in Brickfields can I get both pulungarasi and poetry in the same restaurant.
Naga's Restaurant in Brickfields has a Rotary Club charity book corner where people can donate books, and other customers can buy these books. The proceeds of sale goes towards sponsoring disadvantaged schoolchildren.
5 Jan 2013
Met up with my old friends Lynette and Alicia and received the gift of this beautiful handpainted owl hat.
6 Jan 2013
These 3 friendly budgerigars were surrendered to the SPCA last week because their caregivers had to go abroad. Thankfully, they found an adopter within days following our adoption appeals via social media.
6 Jan 2013
Bathtime for Lily, one of my favourite shelter dogs. Her impairment just makes her more special and lovable.
9 Jan 2013
Each time I bring work home, my cats (as exemplified by Daisy here) help out by keeping me company and holding my files open at the pages I need. I'm beginning to think I should leave work early and do this more often.
12 Jan 2013
Greetings from the clean and tick-free residents of Kennel B! Won't you come visit and maybe please adopt one of us?
12 Jan 2013
Ginger kitten awaiting adoption at the SPCA.
"Look into my eyes... I am cute and cuddly... You know you want me... I am cute and cuddly... You know you want me."
13 Jan 2013
Mini-Me, starring in her own cardboard box theatre and waiting for her best friend Aravind to come over.