As I have talked about before, I am learning to be Diabetic. This means paying a LOT more attention to what I eat and when. Being Jewish, my culinary experiences are often heavily emotional – specific foods being tied to Holidays, family and Shabbat. Now I have a new set of sometimes complex and confusing rules to try to manage my blood sugar, and as of right now, I am honestly not doing all that great. At home it is easier but eating on the go is a different deal altogether. My list of foods that are portable, will safely keep at room temperature or with a cool pack, still meet the nutritional goals of protein/carb balance and in a perfect world, would still fit in my purse left me with a peanut butter sandwich.
I decided my first order of business was to get a new lunch box. I had a lovely Zojirushi thermos set that I dubbed the puzzle box because it had several bits that needed to fit together in a specific way to close properly. It was big heavy and if you filled all the little bits, a LOT of food. I managed over the last couple of years to lose a couple of the pieces, so it isn’t nearly as useful as it was. I went looking for the same brand and somehow, completely by accident, wandered off into the bento box sites. Ok, well maybe not really by accident. After all I have been fascinated with the bento box idea for some time. What is a Bento Box? The shortest answer is Japanese Lunch Box. That does not even begin to cover it of course. Bento is something of an Art form, with food being the pallet. Ranging from over the top cuteness – eggs shaped into rabbit and bear molds, sausages trimmed to look like little octopi, or rice molded in shapes all the way to incredibly artistic (one of my favorites was a portrait of a Geisha looking at a distant mountain). The point being to present food in an appealing way while still providing something to eat. I spent hours perusing sites like and www.justbento.com, www.jbox.com (warning! There are portions of the parent j-list site that are not safe for work) and of course the higher end en.bentoandco.com I settled on a set from www.allthingsforsale.com that is functional, small enough to put in my bag and of course, really cute. But that is not the end of what you can find. There are Egg molds, food picks (to hold things in shape), rice molds, food cups in heart and star shapes, cutters for vegetables, punches for seaweed sheets (to make little faces on your food) and even markers with edible color to let you decorate even further. The boxes themselves range from elegant, traditional lacquered boxes, to anime character shaped boxes. There are boxes just for onigiri (rice balls) and boxes meant to carry miso soup. There are boxes shaped like leaves, and stars and pandas and cats and…. You get the idea. I am definitely not in the epic bento box maker category, and while I am having fun with this, I probably won’t be devoting my lunch to a portrait of Golda Meir anytime soon. I may not be doing as well managing my blood sugar as I would like, or need to, but I am actually looking forward to making my lunches now, which is a step in the right direction.