Cute Bento Box Lunches.
December 8, 2008 1:00 PM   Subscribe

But is a Wall-E really similar to a Wall-A? This matter is of vital importance!
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by Lacking Subtlety at 1:08 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yoshi and Katamari Damacy for the win.
posted by Tehanu at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2008

Heh. Rabbids. Whomp 'em.

That dude needs to marry his girlfriend YESTERDAY. He will never find anyone who loves him more, not even his own mother.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2008 [6 favorites]

I love these, I think the seaweed cutouts silhouetted on processed cheese are my favorite; the cutting is economical and elegant and expressive, the medium is...hilarious and delicious.

Flickr Hivemind stream of other awesome kyaraben and otherwise decorative bentos.

and some starting points for crazy intricate food art of your own.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2008

But I liked Wall-E... why would I want to eat him?

Also, where is the cockroach? Or would that be in bad taste [rimshot] to have on food?
posted by quin at 1:13 PM on December 8, 2008

Man, I have no idea who Shadow of the Colossus is, but this has elevated cheese toast to epic levels. Though I'm not sure how seaweed adds to the meal, beyond graphical fantasticness.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2008

Yeah, my girlfriend cried when she saw this too, but we're not sure how to get free sushi out of the fact.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:25 PM on December 8, 2008 [10 favorites]

posted by gman at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2008

That dude needs to marry his girlfriend YESTERDAY. He will never find anyone who loves him more, not even his own mother.

Pretty sure she loves food art at least as much.
posted by Tehanu at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Spirited Away awesomeness (with cheese)
posted by patricio at 1:29 PM on December 8, 2008

Bento, by creating art from deliberately perishable materials, reminds me of sandpainting. Only with dessert.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:55 PM on December 8, 2008

His girlfriend's blog has all the instructions.
posted by dw at 1:55 PM on December 8, 2008

OK, but eating No-Face is kind weird and off-putting.

Does she have a "The Ring" bento box?
posted by GuyZero at 1:55 PM on December 8, 2008

If I had a Totoro bento when I was a kid I would probably be Overlord now.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 2:04 PM on December 8, 2008

Girlfriend needs a life, and a creative job, too.
posted by woodway at 2:36 PM on December 8, 2008

Kind of agree with woodway. Her talent's being wasted on the guy!

(It's an adorable way to show your appreciating for someone, and I'm just jealous that I pull it off.)
posted by Phire at 2:42 PM on December 8, 2008

(By which of course I mean cannot pull it off. Sigh.)
posted by Phire at 2:51 PM on December 8, 2008

That is awesome and very cool and my boys would still not eat sushi if they could get it like this (though they love the rice pockets like nobody's business).
posted by fenriq at 3:06 PM on December 8, 2008

Girlfriend needs a life, and a creative job, too..

Spiteful. What would you say if she said she was fulfilled by this hobby of hers?
posted by cavalier at 3:21 PM on December 8, 2008

Looks Great! Tastes like Quail Egg, Seaweed, Fish Cake, Yam Cake!
posted by space2k at 3:23 PM on December 8, 2008

Girlfriend needs a life, and a creative job, too..

Yes! because everything you put any effort into should be making you money! Otherwise you're just a big sucker!

posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would be (and am) genuinely delighted that she enjoys bento as a creative outlet, and self-worth should not be contingent on making heaps of money. I work on women's studies (european medieval / early modern period), so I guess that's why I cringe a little at the prospect of a woman staying at home, spending hours trying to please her man through food. If she is happy, that's what counts; her photos / instructions are bringing happiness to other people.
posted by woodway at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2008

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. She seems like a smart cookie to me. :)
posted by kindalike at 3:40 PM on December 8, 2008

No problem Woodway, I'm just really twitchy about the whole "Wow, you should get a life/ be making money off this! har har har!" thing.

*twitch! twitch!*
posted by The Whelk at 3:49 PM on December 8, 2008

Cynical viewpoint #5: she probably doesn't really make these for her boyfriend. She makes them for her super-popular blog on which she puts Google ads and works all day on SEO...oh, wait. No Google ads. Huh. I guess she must just like doing it. Imagine.

I’m born in Japan, came to the U.S. in 1994, and I have been living/moving around in the state of New York since then. I went to an art school in NYC but, just like 95% of the art students, ended up working a non-art related job.

I still love creating stuff with my hands in my free time and I enjoy sewing, cooking, and drawing.

posted by nosila at 3:50 PM on December 8, 2008

Artw, I read the WALL-E script on Simply Scripts last night. It says:

Suddenly, her area is flooded in light.
She flinches at the sight of
as they rumble up behind her.
Headlights for eyes.
They bear a slight resemblance to Wally.
“WALL-A” emblazoned on their fronts.
posted by kindalike at 3:57 PM on December 8, 2008

I make "picture dinners/lunches" for my kids all the time, but this beats the robopants off my stuff. I'll have to steal that hardboiled egg trick, though.
posted by DU at 3:59 PM on December 8, 2008

A friend of a friend makes cute bento boxes for his kids. Some are pretty fun, like this egghead or Octodogs. His own lunches are pretty awesome too.

He has a blog with posts like What makes a good bento?
posted by (parenthetic me) at 4:01 PM on December 8, 2008

I know everybody saw the movie this summer but I just saw it last night and WOW! What a great movie. I had some issues with the script when the story moved to the ship, but I'm perfectly willing to gloss over it. I want to see it again, like most Pixar movies. (I would say "all", but unfortunately sat through the Disney-fied pile of poo that is Cars).

The bento is amusing. This is the new Japanese housewife hobby--who can give their kids the cutest and most creative bento.
posted by zardoz at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2008

I finally saw Wall-E over Thanksgiving weekend, and now I've been seeing him or references to him everywhere... it's like blue car syndrome or something.

In any case, this is great.
posted by Clamwacker at 4:32 PM on December 8, 2008

If she is happy, that's what counts; her photos / instructions are bringing happiness to other people.

Great. Maybe you should spend more time on your comments, then, because "Girlfriend needs a life, and a creative job, too" reads like a complete asshole thing to say. Words are good; use them.
posted by mediareport at 4:44 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was expecting a bento box shaped like wall-e. I am both disappointed and delighted all at once.
posted by boo_radley at 4:47 PM on December 8, 2008

Girlfriend needs a life, and a creative job, too..

Yes! because everything you put any effort into should be making you money! Otherwise you're just a big sucker!


Pet! Peeved! +1!

I used to make bentos (not kari-ben (character bentos), but nearly equally elaborate, beautiful grownup bentos) for Mr. HotToddy and myself every morning before we went off to our lawyer jobs. I've slacked off since getting a new puppy but am starting to pick it up again. I can't stand it when people see someone doing something fun but unremunerative and say "somebody has too much time on their hands" or "she needs to get a life." These fun little things are life.

I'm also teaching my dogs to dance with me, so there!
posted by HotToddy at 5:02 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]

chungking express: It wasn't "via Waxy," though I definitely considered posting the Katamari one. I'll bet you meant "via Kottke."
posted by waxpancake at 5:30 PM on December 8, 2008

zardoz, how odd, I loved Cars and have watched it dozens of times with my kids (my older son is a fanatic).

I love that she uses these bento boxes as a creative outlet and can express a little extra special love for her man this way too. I guarantee everybody who sees him open his lunch wishes she was their gal.
posted by fenriq at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2008

People have kindly pointed out that bento is personally fulfilling, life-affirming, an expression of love and a source of happiness. Great! I was too aggressive, but I believe women - including Japanese housewives - are entitled to a life with equal career opportunities that is not defined with respect to a man. I do not have capitalist greed coursing through my veins. I've chosen to work for half the salary I used to make so that I could work in academia, going back to university in my thirties, working in a dorm room where I slept in a twin-sized bed, sharing a toilet, shower and tiny 1970s kitchen with three other students. That was my choice. May women the world over have equal opportunities to follow their bliss. I don't associate food preparation with fun, but I have foodie friends of both sexes. Go, go bento!
posted by woodway at 5:43 PM on December 8, 2008

woodway: you seem to be presuming that she doesn't have a life with career opportunities. Unless she's spelling out "HELP ME I'M TRAPPED IN A BENTO FACTORY" in katakana, I don't see where you're getting that from the photos of the cute lil' lunches she makes.

Besides, "life" and "career opportunities" aren't necessarily the same thing. At least I hope not, or I'm screwed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2008

woodway, I believe you are suffering from gender bias regarding bentos. There are many, many women bentoers both in and outside of Japan who hold down full-time jobs. Bentoing and career are not mutually exclusive. You have a perfectly valid point regarding career opportunities for Japanese women, but that has exactly nothing to do with bentos.
posted by HotToddy at 6:23 PM on December 8, 2008

As I've said, great great great that it makes people happy! Happiness is good! I see a time-intensive domestic activity, and I think about how the creation heads out the door to work with someone else in this case. I'm weird to see cute lil' lunches and think of social issues. I'm *glad* many many women enjoy bento and working, with a good balance between home life and work outside the home. Domestic - career balance is not easy in any country. Bento making is time happily spent: they are made with love as an expression of love. Full stop. I am not expressing myself well, so I'll leave with apologies.
posted by woodway at 7:03 PM on December 8, 2008

The point of women's liberation is that women have the choice to do what they want. For some women, that means Secretary of State. For some women, it means soccer momming. For some women, that means sending their partner to work with a beautiful quirky lunch. All of these choices are equally valid, which is the whole point of feminisim.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:59 PM on December 8, 2008

Well, not quite the *whole* point, but ok.
posted by mediareport at 9:13 PM on December 8, 2008

Bento making is time happily spent: they are made with love as an expression of love.

Or maybe it's art, a fun thing, an enjoyable thing. I don't see how if the end product is food and it gets handed to a guy it's all about him now and it's the 1950s again. It's a very inventive body of work that seems to celebrate cultural elements of her own choosing. But I guess it's just all for him. Because you know how women are.
posted by Tehanu at 9:32 PM on December 8, 2008

Bentoing is absorbing in the same way that all artistic pursuits are. Bento makers talk about "seeing the world through bento eyes"--when you're grocery shopping, you find yourself looking for cute little foods that would be good for bentos (hey, kumquats! tiny gherkins! what about these little Baby Bel cheeses?!), and you're always on the lookout for special tools and accessories that you can use in making the bento. Then there are the bento boxes themselves.

I've got a noncreative job (lawyer) and it's fun to get up every morning and spend the first part of the day totally absorbed in doing something creative but useful. It's fun to anticipate Mr. HotToddy's surprise when he opens his bento, and it's fun for me to eat mine as well. It's an excellent method for portion control and an entertaining way to eat healthfully, because a properly made bento will have five different color foods and use five different methods of preparation. When I don't have time to make a bento, lunch is just some crap from local eatery, or a microwaved frozen entree, many bites of the same boring thing. When I do make one, lunch is a few bites of many different things, artistically arranged, presented in a beautiful box--something to look forward to all morning.
posted by HotToddy at 10:05 PM on December 8, 2008

Metafilter: tiny gherkins!
posted by dirigibleman at 10:06 PM on December 8, 2008

Random question, but does anyone know if these tremendously artistic bentos ever actually taste good?

Because... microwaved lettuce? Ew.
posted by bookwo3107 at 5:57 AM on December 9, 2008

When I was making at-home lunches for my daughter before she started school, I started to have fun with it, and it was a win-win situation: I enjoyed being creative, and my daughter loved it when she got "fancy food" as she called it. (Plus, she was more likely to eat it)

She goes off to school now and while I don't have the time-management skills to put together bento lunches like these, I do put together a bento-style lunch each day: a little bit of this and that into the lunchbox. I top it off with a sketch or doodle of some sort, which is a piece she loves and I hope as she grows up it remains a vague but pleasant memory.

Woodway, I am glad to see you have modified/clarified your "needs a life" comment, because that sort of lazy commentary is also a pet peeve of mine. Figure it takes the woman a half an hour to put this together (since she seems to have a lot of experience). The same people who will tell her that she needs a life (speaking generally, not specific to you) are those who will spend a half-hour per day doing something others would consider a waste. I consider spending a half-hour doing something creative that she enjoys that has the added benefit of expressing her love of her boyfriend, not to mention actually feeding him, time well spent.

Here is an old article at Salon by Jane Singer about being an expatriate mom in Japan and her whole experience with the over-the-top bento box world (and other things). It doesn't sound like she enjoyed making the bento boxes very much, but she had her own reasons for doing it. It is a good read and if you scrolled down this far in the thread you would probably enjoy it.
posted by mikepop at 6:57 AM on December 9, 2008

bookwo3107--If you're talking just about the character bentos, you're right, the main concern is the design and not taste, and the more elaborate they are, the less appetizing they tend to look. But take a look at the beautiful bentos being made by this woman.
posted by HotToddy at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2008

Thanks HotToddy - that looks much more appetizing, and frankly, makes these bento photoshoots that seem to be popping up everywhere make a lot more sense.
posted by bookwo3107 at 5:44 AM on December 10, 2008

Aaaaand... Pixar loves it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:22 PM on December 10, 2008

HotToddy & Bookwo3107, I humbly agree that's beautiful, as is this. American Culture(tm) isn't the only way of living.

For what little it's worth at this point (please don't kick me!), I associate bento with Japan, along with kawaii. West or East, in recent decades home-made lunches have tended to be the creation of wives & mothers for family members heading out the door to work or school. I'm not saying a brown bag lunch or bento box sends us back to the 1950s. Heck, during the 1970s - liberation! - my American mother faced curfews, dress codes and limited career expectations as an undergrad, even though *her* mother defied the odds and studied science at Berkeley a generation earlier. The last Oxbridge colleges admitted women in the 1980s; Equal Opportunities legislation in Japan dates from 1986. I appreciate that 2008 represents a very different time, regardless of place, but all things considered I'm not radically retro.

Lunch at work, by someone at home, strikes me as being worth consideration among thoughtful MeFites in a bento thread (with some precedence), and lovingly prepared manga lunches look as though they involve skill and time beyond the odd half hour here or there. The WALL-E woman (it is a woman) pursued professional training as an artist, and she finds outets for her creativity in a number of ways.

I'd love to support myself through creative endeavors, and I wish someone would occasionally spoil me with food that's quirky and fun. My cat is pants when it comes to making lunch: she wants her bowl filled as early as possible, preferably around 3 am. The lack of a Mr. Woodway in my life isn't solely because I'm an idiotic feminist: there are *plenty* of reasons I'm single, wholly unrelated to microwaved lettuce.

If you'd like to smack me, or grade some student essays on my behalf, MeMail is an excellent way to get in touch.
posted by woodway at 8:30 PM on December 11, 2008

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