One of the things that has always fascinated me about Japan, was the concept of Bento. Bento is a boxed lunch that is prepared using various methods and ingredients. Family members make Bento for their kids and some housewives try to show off their coordinative skills by decorating their Bento’s to look like Pandas and other cute creatures. But for me, I love that you can buy a Bento anywhere in Japan at any time.
My wife’s family has a long tradition of making Bento’s for their kids and husbands. So when I started working out here full time in the city, she felt the need to make me a Bento every day. At first I was flattered, but after a while I felt bad that she spent so much time cooking and preparing meals for me. Eventually I told her that she didn’t have to make me a Bento, I discovered that there was a supermarket next to my work that made awesome Bento’s for 500 yen ($5) or less.
She was relieved and her family tried to make her feel guilty about it. I reminded her that all those years we lived in America she didn’t have to make me Bento’s so why should that change because of our new living situation? She obliged and sometimes if we had some left overs for dinner she would pack them into a Bento for me. I always appreciated this.
The awesome part about a good Bento is that it includes some healthy carbs (rice), protein (fish, beef or pork) and some vegetables (salad, steamed, or pickled). Personally I go after the ones that are 500 calories or less. So not only am I getting a quick meal, it’s also healthy. Compared to spending 600 yen ($6)or more on cheeseburgers, fries and a drink from McDonalds, a Bento is a great way to get fast food that is good for you.
I know that sometimes I complain about some aspects of Expat life in Japan. But a Bento is definitely not one of them. If you ever come out here I suggest trying them out at your local Supermarket or convenience store.
Social Gelo with Angelo
Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology)