Sunday, September 20, 2009

Food, Food, Glorious, Food!

When I was 11, and living in Hawaii, we had a Japanese woman, by the name of Toki Yamaguchi, who came on Wednesdays to clean and do the washing and ironing for my mother. When Toki took her lunch break she would sit down at our 1954 chrome and swirly gray Formica kitchen table with her Bento Box and chopsticks. I was fascinated.

I peeked over her shoulder while she poked around in her mysterious meal. Soon she was bringing extras and offering me tastes from her exotic looking lacquer and mother-of-pearl lunch box on the days she knew I would not be in school. I got to try rice balls with ume (pickled plum) tucked inside, various kinds of sushi, steamed fish, pickled vegetables, toasted seaweed, sashimi, teriyaki beef and chicken, Udon noodles and so many other assorted goodies that I've been hooked on Japanese food ever since.

Imagine my surprise last week when surfing the internet, I ran across an article in the NY Times on Bento Boxes! What a huge craze they have become. Admittedly, this interest has been mostly spawned by mothers trying to pack healthy and affordable lunches for their kids so they don't have to participate in the school lunch programs. . .where catsup is considered a vegetable. . . but the whole concept of multiple small portions of many different colorful fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and proteins makes sense for everyone who is looking to eat a healthy diet.

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