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BENTO GIVEAWAY! Win a bento box of beauty for your beloved!

February 4, 2010

In conjunction with the fabulous girls from Culture Vultures ; THE local cultural & art website  right here in Leeds, UK ; I am running a bento competition!!! Unfortunately it is only available for entry by denziens living and working in Leeds – but the gifts are definately fabulous as they’re handpicked by me!

The selected winner will be getting a specially made bento from my kitchen (yes, made from scratch!) in an adorable bento box that they get to keep and treasure. I have hand-picked a selection of envy-inducing ‘bento-gear’ for the winner to make their own bento lunches, as well as a how-to handbook on making superbly kawaii bento lunches and being the envy of all your colleagues!

It is my hope that this will start a lunch-volution, and the end of the sloppy sandwich on dry, stale bread that I see so many people stuff their mouths with during lunch time. To be able to go into a working lunch and not served a selection of sandwiches with unidentifiable fillings would be absolutely amazing. Having lived in blue-skies California, winters here in the north gets me depressed – but the thought of opening up a box of sunshine halfway through the work day brightens up my day to no end.  Hey, maybe if everyone packs a bento, there will be no crime, peace on earth….and all that jazz…:D

… mock-interview, which was posted on their website:

We could not resist celebrating the romantic tradition of Valentines, but with a twist. It’s a whole year since we launched The Culture Vulture and last Valentines we delivered a decadent chocolate cake (made by the Leeds based Marvellous Tea Dance Company)  to the deserving staff at the Leeds General Infirmary. This time around inspired by Leeds Blogger Mils’ lip smackingly good ‘Not another brown bag lunch‘ we decided upon brightening up a special worker’s lot with a ‘beloved bento box’

So here’s how to enter! Nominate the person you think most delightful in the world (but works in Leeds and will be at work on the 12th February – Sorry the rest of the UK) in the comment box post letting us know their star qualities and why they should benefit from a bespoke bento box created by Mili just for them. (Specific names need not be mentioned in the case of crushes or secret squirrelness)  Not only will they be surprised at their workplace but will also gain a whole bento goody bag to get them started on making their own special lunches,  or yours if they love you back!  We’ll pick the winner Monday 8th February and discuss dietary requirements then!

bento 1.1

For those of you wishing to be enlightened here is more from Mili about the box of delights!

What is a bento box?
“Portion control meets nutritionally complete work of art”.
Bento box is basically a box that you put your food in. If you’ve ever been to a Japanese restaurant, you would be familiar with the plastic mock-lacquer box with compartments that your dinner arrived in. In my opinion (and many others) the hinomaru is the classic bento, freshly cooked white short grained rice with an umeboshi (red pickled plum) in the centre – representing the Japanese flag.

In Japan, bentos are as widely available as Mcdonalds for the lunch-on-the-run, from vending machines to convenience stores (kombini) and railway stations. The credit-crunched version of assembling lunch at home and bringing it with you to eat at work/school has long been part and parcel of the Japanese culture – just as a brownbagged sandwich is to the Western culture.

However, the style of bento that is gaining somewhat of a cult status worldwide are the bentos made for children.  This is instantly striking, from the rice molded into adorable shapes like rabbits and penguins. Go a step further and you’ll find great charaben/kyraben (character bento) practitioners recreating whole scenes of computer games into boxes of edible goodness – from a scene out of Mario  to Professor Layton! There are competitions in Japan where accomplished charaben artists churn out their most adorably cute creations; from anime characters made out of ham to a whole zoo and Hello Kitty disguised as a penguin!

bento magic1

What do you put in it? Does it have to be Japanese food?
Two words; ANYTHING GOES!  There are no hard and fast rules on this – I ensure I incorporate all food groups packed tightly in a box . Traditional bentos usually follow the rule of 4 parts starch, 1 parts fruit/veg and 2 part protein – but this is by no means a be all and end all. I generally try to lower my carbs intake whilst upping my fruit/veg intake, making it more 1:1:1. A bento for me has to tickle my tastebuds and fill me up enough so I do not succumb to a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate. Fabulous bento practitioner-turned-author advises JUST NO JUNK, whilst another accomplished bento practitioner advises that nothing raw should be packed, and always ensure you use an icepack in summer….nobody wants a spoiled lunch!

Japanese food definitely helps, especially those that are designed to be eaten at room temperature, i.e. rice balls. Again, no hard and fast rules, I have previously packed hummus & crudites. Olives works well, so does cherry tomatoes and mini cheeses (think babybel) Some of the more refined bentoists have turned plain cheese and ham sandwiches into magnificent work of art. The key is to keep each individual item small, that way you are able to add a wider variety of foodstuff.

Is it for one greedy person or for two to share?
That’s the beauty with bentos – and the addiction that many bento makers face with purchasing as many bento boxes as they can possibly find! The variety of shapes and sizes of bento boxes available is astounding, from plain flat plastic containers (i.e. tupperware style) to elaborate cedarwoor crafted ovals and Hello Kitty shaped plastic boxes. Personally, my burger-shaped bento box gets the most laughter when I reveal it at lunchtime .There are boxes out there designed for all appetites, from tiny 350ml containers for toddlers or a snack to giant picnic boxes (kouraku) catering for a family picnic.

The rule of thumb is bento lunches are generally made for one – I keep my boxes tiny (below 600ml volume) to keep a strict tab on the portion size, but the husband gets a man-sized non-cute 1 litre box. Another note; bento boxes comes in all shape and sizes, but generally the cute ones are on the small side, catering to children and adolescent girls!

If you were making a bento box of beauty for your most beloved what key ingredients would you include and why?
Lots and lots of colours! There is nothing more stunning than opening up a box at lunchtime and having a riot of colours exploding from a deceptively simple box. Healthy bento euthusiasts live by the colour rule; Red, Green, Yellow and Orange. This means alot of fruit and vegetables…….but rest assured, I am a self-confessed carnivore, so you won’t be stuck with a vegan lunchbox – unless you want to!

To enter, please click here!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2010 1:50 am

    I must be blind, where is the cookbook? 🙂

    • Notabrownbag permalink
      February 5, 2010 7:30 am

      Haha sorry boss…its on its way; hopefully my stast from amazon arrives today!


  1. Valentine’s Day Bento Giveaway – Bento Central

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