Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on bentoing in my family

The Sunday before last, my younger brother gave his fiance a nice Zojirushi Mr. Bento Lunch Jar and Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals On The Go (a cookbook for practical foods that are easy to pack into bentos, with little-to-no emphasis on the cute stuff). The package actually arrived on Thursday, when my husband, son, and I routinely visit my mother.

I thought it somewhat neat. I've been working with bentos for over 6 years and got my older sister and mother packing bento lunches as well. My mother even started buying a number of the cute bento box recipe books (having several in her collection and possibly her first repeat purchase of the same title). It's not uncommon for my husband or me to pack a family bento to take over to my mother's house or on trips. We have several different types of containers, ranging from the small cute children's bento boxes (snack and meal) to large picnic tiffin sets. I actually bought a Zojirushi Classic Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar (before it was called "Classic") and a cheaper version from another company (which I forget the name of) for when my husband was working as an auditor, which kept him on the road and in remote locations with little chance of stopping for food or heating up what was packed.

I'm left feeling curious why my younger brother suddenly found this an interesting idea. Surely, he's seen my husband and I pack them, but he's expressed no interest. Surely, he's heard my husband, sister, or I talk about them, but again, he's expressed no interest. I asked him if his fiance is into making bento lunches (because she too has not shown anything that would say so, but there's admittedly there's only so much people get to talk about when time is so limited and she doesn't really post much on Facebook). My brother responded that he likes to buy her a new cookbook each year and that she likes asian cuisine. Ah... that explains it. He saw the book, thought it an interesting idea, and bought her a container to go with her. She seemed to think it nifty (my mother also got her compact chopsticks, with a container, that unscrew into four pieces for ease of travel... something I've been wanting for a while because they are pretty cool). Her response to him was, "So, you are going to pack my lunches for me?"

My older brothers were confused by it all, but that's okay. Everyone acted like this was a cool new concept... and I thought, "Wait a second... I've been doing this for years, guys!" But that's okay. Admittedly, even though my family (siblings, parents, etc) are not what you would call "normal", we all have our oddities in different directions. Mine is things like artistic endeavors, bento packing, cooking Asian dishes (mainly Korean), going to steampunk events (and helping create a steampunk larp), and so on. I would say that I don't really fit, because it's true. My brothers have their little grouping of oddities. My oldest sister is the most normal, which actually makes her a bit more odd in our family. My older sister is very heavily into middle eastern and belly dance things. I don't even really know what is considered "normal". The other things is that I tend to be more laid back about the things I'm into... I don't discuss them much because in my mind, they just "are". There's no reason to point out the bento meals or go into details about a particular design of steampunk attire I'm figuring out. I don't bring these things into the limelight. Perhaps it's because I'm somewhat humble, or perhaps I don't see them as all that special because they are normal to me. I don't know. I just know that the reaction to the bento gift to my youngest brother's fiance caught me off-guard.

Bentos are definitely spreading, and it's nice to see it catch the attention of yet another member (and soon-to-be member) of my family.

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