Controversial History of Bento BoxesKatachiware Japanese Style Tableware
The history of Bento Boxes starts during the Edo period (1603-1868) were various materials were used such as a magnolia leaf, oak leaf, bamboo sheath or bamboo leaf was used to wrap lunches on the go. These were not durable and didn’t last long so they started to make bento wood.
The earliest know record of bento was created by interweaving fine strips of willow, bamboo or bending pliable wood into a shape that could be used for carrying foods in. These types of bento are no longer used today though in general bento boxes are in vogue and still widely used for serving Japanese inspired meals.
Controversial History of Bento Boxes during the Edo period
History of Bento Boxes continues on during the Edo period where bento was used by wealthy merchants to pack their favourite foods to make their outings to the theater or flower viewing more interesting. The bento boxes had several tiered and comprised of enough food to last their trip. There were several varieties and forms of bento boxes in use during this period. One of them was inspired by the compartmentalised paint-boxes of a well-known painter and monk of that period named Shokado Shojo, later named the Shokado Bento Box.
Another one belonging to the sixteenth century was a half-moon-shaped container said to have been liked by Sen no Rikyu who began the famed tea ritual.
The tea-box was a container to store the instruments required for tea ceremony held in open-air. Bento boxes were used earlier to serve food visually appealing on special occasions and during celebrations and in the tea-partaking ritual.
Today’s Bento Boxes
Today, in many Japanese bento restaurants, lunch boxes hold a special appeal and serve Japanese sit-down party delicacies. Restaurants use bento boxes to serve individual meals, the traditional way more than the convenience factor. Several restaurants have bento boxes as a special item on their menus, and the greater the restaurant’s rating, the more exquisite its contents are. There are several varieties of bento boxes. Varied choices in shapes like circular, oval and rectangular as well as tiers are available. Bamboo, wood, melamine or anodized aluminium is commonly used as the material they are made from.
The wide array of boxes includes watertight containers that can hold liquid food content without leaks, vessels that maintain the foods’ warmth, and even holding mini drink bottles. Then there are designer bento boxes which have famous cartoon characters for the decorative aspect. Varied accessories such as matching chopsticks, dividers, sauce holders, and carrying cases are available today. Due to the wide variety of bento boxes available, home-makers have a wide choice to choose from, creating interesting meals for their family.
The bento box’s original purpose is to appeal healthy meals, which is still maintained today visually. The ingredients of the food items and the manner of preparation have expanded to include new, colourful and nutritious recipes that will be liked by kids and adults alike.
For more information on History of Bento Boxes, view here: Wikipedia Bento History.