A bento (弁当), or obento, is more than just a lunch box in Japan –This is its own category of food that you can eat at any time of day. The first bento dates back to the 5th century when bamboo was used as boxes to contain food to carry out to the fields, for hunting or to the battlefield. The traditional lunch box has evolved over the centuries and today, you can enjoy a countless variety of Bentos.
1. The history of Bento box
When the lunchbox was first invented, the word "bento" was not then in use. Actually, the term was hoshi-ii, or dried food, beginning in the Kamakura Period, or approximately 1185. It would simply be made out of dried rice—no packaging—that could be consumed immediately or boiled in water. The first authentic boxed bento that we are familiar with today was not created until 1568, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, using hardwood lacquered boxes that were expressly made for the purpose.
The bento became a common dinner during the Edo period (1603–1867), with ingredients and presentation differing according to social status and occupation. Koshibento (waist bento), which frequently contained riceballs wrapped on bamboo leaves, was carried by tourists and travelers. For special events such as hanami (flower viewing parties), large, layered bentos were prepared to celebrate the occasion.
Aluminum and plastic were first utilized in bento preparation in the 20th century, which led to the invention of the microwaveable konbini bento (convenience store bento), ekiben (train station bento), and hokaben (take-out bento).
2. Why are bento boxes so popular in event catering?
The bento box has been around for generations, but it has grown to hold more than simply packed rice. Today, it also contains fish, veggies, and pickles to replicate the type of teishoku-style lunch you would receive at home or in a restaurant. Making these lunches early in the morning to be transported to work or school for the day has become customary among families. It is a practical method to have a complete meal in a single compact box. Nowadays, a wide range of eateries, railway station vendors, and supermarkets sell bento boxes. They can be filled with anything from the traditional Japanese "okazu," or side dishes, and rice, to bread and spaghetti with various cuisines.
3. Balanced diets for kids
Bento-style lunch boxes promote a balanced, properly sized diet, just like traditional Japanese bento boxes do. Aloysa Hourigan, a senior nutritionist with Nutrition Australia, claimed in an interview with SBS that bento boxes "help you limit your portion sizes because each compartment is not enormous. You might have a tiny portion of, say, pasta or rice salad in one box, followed by some protein in another. a muffin or vegetable stick and hummus could be a snack option in addition to fruit in another box. Every size and configuration of Yumbox is created with the goal of providing the best possible nourishment.
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