On a recent trip to Japan, I glimpsed the country's obsession with bento boxes. I wanted to find out more and came across the blog Just Bento (justbento.com), whose creator, Makiko Itoh, has written a book, The Just Bento Cookbook - Everyday Lunches to Go, scheduled for release early next year.
Itoh's blog has sections on bento basics and getting started and there are plenty of recipes and pictures of the finished products, along with information on how long it takes to make each one and its calorie count. Her bento are varied - she creates dishes for vegetarians, omnivores, adults and children; and some are seasonal (such as ones to make at Halloween and the viewing of the cherry blossoms). Most of her bento are Japanese but she also posts pictures and recipes for those filled with other cuisines such as Italian and Chinese. All the recipes - which include yakibuta (Chinese-style roast pork), tuna and tofu miso mini burgers and miniature savoury muffins - are what she calls 'bento friendly', most are meant to be eaten at room temperature'.