So... I don't claim to be any great bento artist. The great focus of my bentos is healthy, balanced, filling food, with cuteness as an afterthought. It's just not high on my priorities list. That doesn't mean I don't want to play with my food though.
A couple of weeks ago I took one of my 'I'm bored' trips over to Amazon. I searched 'bento' and happened upon Face Food Recipes by Christopher D Salyers. It was in the used books for 32 cents or something like that. I also picked up Cute Yummy Time... but that's another story.
So I splurged 32 cents plus four dollars for shipping. And a couple of days ago, it came in the mail. The first thing i did was thumb through and look at all the pictures. The photos are gorgeous. And clear. That's something I appreciate. Just because all the pictures on my blog are fuzzy doesn't mean that's what I'm satisfied with.
I could have stopped there. I mostly bought it to look at the pictures. But... I figured that since I owned it, I should actually read it. Let's be honest. I have no intention to start putting anime characters in my lunches. It's just not my thing. But I was still interested in how the construction of each character worked. I want to know how the layers work. And I want to know what materials were used. Because I find myself picturing bentos that are a bit more than just food, and I need an idea of where to begin. This book provided that for me.
Beside each of the gorgeous photos, there is a sketch of the same bento. Each of the elements of the charaben is numbered, and below the sketch there is a list of ingredients with corresponding numbers. For the most part, only the ingredients of the characters are present, but I find that's really all I need to know. If it's not specifically part of the character, there's no reason I can't put whatever I want in there.
I guess some people may find the title to be a little bit misleading. There are very few recipes in the book. They live in the back with the glossary and the how-to. I bought the book figuring that 'recipe' would refer to items used to build the characters, so I wasn't disappointed.
I am quite happy with the book. I think I would be happy with it even if I had paid more than 32 cents for it. It is my first bento book and won't be my last, but I can see myself coming back to it for inspiration over and over again.
Will you see the results right away? Not likely. It still takes me forever to make my simple lunches. But I did experiment a little bit, pulling from the book...
I made a caterpillar! He's made out of fresh green beans. His head is made of fish cake. His face is nori, and his antennae are inoki mushrooms.
This is my first time using fish cake. And my first taste of it. My mom found it the last time we went to the Oriental Market. She went all nostalgic on me. My mom grew up in Hawaii and so she grew up eating fish cake. Based on that and the fact that a lot of the cute bentos around seem to use fish cake, I had to buy some. ...I'm still undecided as to whether or not I like it. The taste is fine. The texture is taking some getting used to.
The face was cut using the only face punch I own. It isn't my favorite. I don't thing it's very kawaii. But I don't have little kitchen scissors yet. Next shopping trip maybe.
My caterpillar is sitting on a bed of black ham fried rice. I love black rice. It's pretty and it tastes good. I mixed in more fresh green beens, diced ham, and more inoki mushrooms.
The fruit layer looks more of a mess than usual, I think. But... I'll deal. It's got pineapple, strawberries, a cutie orange, mango, and grapes.
No one paid me to review the book. I bought it myself. Because I wanted it.
... I may need to actually research the rules...