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Bentō (弁当 or べんとう) is a meal common in Japanese cuisine, made to take away to be eaten somewhere else. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables as a side dish. Containers for bento may be very different, from disposable mass produced to handcrafted lacquerware. While bento meals can be bought at many stores and bento shops (弁当屋 bentō-ya ) in all of Japan, it is still considered a very important skill for a Japanese housewife to be able to prepare a good boxed lunch.
Bento can be very elaborate, aesthetically pleasing cuisine arrangements. Often the food is arranged in such a way as to resemble other objects: dolls, flowers, leaves, and so forth. For some special occasions like hanami, more elaborate and bigger bentos are prepared. People often take bento for a picnic.
Types of bento
Bento are often sold in train stations. These are called ekiben (駅弁). Also,Bento are sold in airports. These are called Soraben (空弁).Kyaraben (キャラ弁), is a shortened form of the two words character and bento and is becoming more popular.
Here are some foods that are often contained in bento:
- Tamagoyaki (Japanese style omelette)
- Karaage (deep-fried chicken)
- Onigiri (rice ball)
- Takosan Viennese (sausage like octopus)
- Shogayaki (pork grilled ginger and soy sauce)
- Bento*弁当 An artistic Bento blog site (Japanese & English).
- Bento Corner An English language blog about creating bentos, especially bentos for children.
- O-Bento Net
- Bento Business A UK bento site with a gallery of bento shops and accessories in Japan, plus illustrated bento recipes.
- Cooking Cute: a bento site
- Science Channel's The Making Series: #33 Making of Convenience Store Bento (video in Japanese)
- My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch! FAQ An American site on making Bento.
- Instructables How-To How to make a bento, also gives some history on bentos.
- ekiben*駅弁 An explanation of ekiben.
- club of kyaraben*キャラ弁 A Japanese kyaraben site.