A Bento Lunch Experiment

The bento box has always appealed to me. I'm what's known as a sectional eater. If you serve me a meal of meat, veg, and starch, I'll turn my plate clockwise until the veg is closest to me and will proceed to eat one section at a time continuing clockwise around the plate. I also don't like my food to touch. This has fascinated my counterpart over the years, and he regularly prepares meals to thwart this tendency.

Given this quirk of mine, when I discovered bento boxes,  I felt like there was someone else out there who understood. The entire concept is ingenious - each item unique enough to stand on its own, placed in its own separated section of the box. If I had my way, all meals would be served in this manner.

Recently, through various food blogs, I've discovered the world of DIY bento - websites devoted to photos and ideas for turning standard lunch fare into a bento experience, extending the concept beyond Asian cuisine so that anything can become part of a bento box. This is my favorite food porn. I marvel at the creativity that goes into these lunches. The sheer artistry of the garnishes alone is breath-taking.Today I decided that it's time to give it a try.

My bento lunch is going to have a nice, wintery, Northern European feel. I'm making mini sandwiches that I'm going to pair with a fresh slaw. And I'm going to add a fruit section of tiny Mandarin orange sections. I'll use parchment paper between each section.

Mini Sandwiches

Nothing fancy here - just French baguette and kohlrabi, both sliced thin; mustard; brie; and Braunschweiger made into small, bite-sized sandwiches.


My knife skills are not what they should be for this task, so I am using the not-very-chefy technique of the food processor. The slaw consists of apple, kohlrabi greens, carrot and a little shallot, tossed with some sushi vinegar and a little sugar. It's a little bitter from the greens and the shallot, but the apple and sugar cut this a bit.


This was more challenging than I thought. I wanted to use the parchment paper to create individual compartments inside my Snapware but couldn't figure out how to do this. Once my counterpart realized what I was up to, he was so impressed with the creativity of this venture that he gladly lent an origami-skilled hand.

He made little boxes out of the parchment paper that will keep everything separate and even added little sheets of paper between each sandwich. Here's the finished product.

I can see that I have quite a way to go. While all the flavors should work well together, it's visually out of balance. And I didn't even attempt a garnish. But I did have fun, so I'll keep at it. For some real bento lunches, visit Gamene's photostream on Flickr and check Foodista for a weekly Bento Love posting.