Thursday, December 20, 2007

Obento Lunches

I remember quite vividly the lunches I took to elementary school. Every weekday for six years I ate a ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bag of chips and a nutritious Little Debbie dessert. For a drink I had some red or orange flavor of Kool Aide, sometimes purple. I never complained. I suppose if I had brought veggie sticks and apples I'd have gotten the snot kicked out of me. Little Debbie was cool. Carrot sticks were not. I still remember the day one girl learned to freeze her Coke just right and wrap it in tinfoil so that it was perfectly bubbly and still cold -- but not frozen -- by noon. She was awesome. All I got was a freezer full of sticky goo and a red behind.

I quite liked those Nutty Bars too.

Today is J's last day of school for the year. And while they usually eat school lunches (a blog post in itself!) today was Obento Day, bring your own lunch.

And in Japan cool is different. Here, healthy IS cool. Kids, for the most part, like to eat well and moms enjoy spending time making an attractive and nutritional lunch (and breakfast and supper and snack). It's actually embarrassing and completely uncool to come school with anything resembling a peanut butter sandwich and a bag of potato chips. Not to mention the fact that the teachers would have a heart attack and the mother would probably get a phone call. Another big no-no is filling your child's thermos with sweet drinks. And by sweet I'm talking even fruit juice. The only drinks allowed are unsweetened teas, green and wheat mostly. But there are a whole bunch of teas here that can be served hot or cold. So it actually turns out to be more flavors that red, orange and purple Kool Aide.

Luckily, many years ago, I totally jumped on board this obento thing. I've always liked making them, eating them, buying books about them.

So this morning I woke up and made this, today's creation:

For dessert green and golden kiwi pieces with pomegranate seeds.

For main course, some meatballs with melted cheddar and Gouda cheese on them, rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds, a spring roll chopped into fourths (to make it fit), fresh green beans, a mini tomato, a salad of lotus root, carrot and soy beans and that snowman wearing a Santa suit is really made of cheese and salmon (I bought that).

You stack the two tiers, put a band around it, slip in a pair of chopsticks,

wrap it all up in a bandanna and fill a thermos full of hot green tea and voila!

Soda says..."Gimme some of that cheese man."


Hilary said...

That looks absolutely yummy and SO much healthier than a typical kid's meal around here!

Kappa no He said...

Since I have to make them so sporatically, I tend to go all out. But once junior high school starts I hear they have to bring lunch daily. I'm sure I'll be begging to be able to slap a piece of ham between two slices of bread before the second semester.

Virginia Lee said...

I love reading about obento! I remember a post you did about them a while back. I think that's when I became a huge fan of yours, in fact. <3

You need to teach your son how to make his own obento. Who knows? Maybe he'll be interested enough in food to become a chef! Then he can do all the cooking for his mama! :D

But, I love the obento posts in all seriousness. The foodie in me finds them fascinating and amazing.

Tell Soda we're big fans. We love your kitties! They look very like my Queen of the Universe Lady and my Sir Thomas Toes. He was roundish and had white feet and a white chin and chest. He also had a parti-colored nose that was partly pale pink and partly coral colored.

Jim Melvin said...

Good gawd, you're killing me! This all sounds dee-licious!

Kappa no He said...

Virginia: What a great idea! I did tell him that this winter break we were going to learn several dishes together. A guy who can cook is so cool.

Soda says..chu chu chu...when she is feeling lovey she likes to suck on your sweater or some fluffy blanket or something. She's feeling the love. Queen of the Universe and Sir Thomas Toes, I love it!

Jim: He ate it all! And thank you.

Virginia Lee said...

Hey goob! I left you something in my blog. XOXO