Besides having the right flavour and taste, visual appeal is also important when it comes to food. That being said, Japanese lunchboxes or Obento sets, takes the visual appeal to an art form of its own.
In Japan, it is very common for school children to bring lunchboxes with them to school. Some adults too will also take lunch with them to work. While the time spent on decorating their lunch may vary, Japanese certainly do take pride in preparing Obentos which are both beautiful and tasty.
A typical lunch box typically includes items such as rice or riceballs, sandwiches, seaweed, omelettes, sausages, vegetables, and even fish balls. Pickles such as sour plums or ginger are also often added to help keep the food fresh and add flavour. Seasonings like roasted sesame seeds, Salmon Furikake (dried salmon bits) or even Nori seaweed bits can be added to add flavour to the rice.
To achieve a cute if not beautiful lunch box, many different techniques of decoration are used. Special moulds or presses are used to create interesting rice ball shapes. There are also specially shaped cutters to cut Nori seaweed into special shapes like stars and hearts, while scissors or knives are painstakingly used to achieve whimsical shapes and patterns. Many shops also sell special toothpicks, edible food markers, and separators to add to the cuteness of the Obentos.
To make them even better, themes are often followed, be it popular Anime cartoon characters, animals, plants or even holidays like Christmas or Halloween.
So the next time you pack your lunch box why not try creating your own lunch box art. Here is a simple recipe for riceballs.
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