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Bentō (弁当 or べんとう) is a meal common in Japanese cuisine, made to take away from home 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 hand crafted 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.