Sunday, April 21, 2013

Obento lunch boxes

Yesterday morning (after spotting the pheasants), Tetsu suggested we go off hiking.  (It was a nice idea but we ended up NOT going as we could still see snow on the mountaintop.)  BEFORE we gave up on the hiking idea I decided I'd MAKE a picnic lunch.  Ah... memories of my obento making days!!

When my children were in kindergarten, everyday I sent them off with a little obento (lunch) box.  Even now at the kindergarten, the children bring their own lunches packed in little aluminum boxes that can be heated as is in a steamer...  The kindergarten feels that the lunch "connection" between mother and child makes the daily separation easier.  Anyway.. I began my many years' long routine of making obentos.  I bought books showing how to make the cutest, the healthiest, the most beautiful obentos that a child would gobble up joyfully.

I'm pretty sure my children have good memories of their obento years.  I decorated their rice with cut out cheese flowers and seaweed animal faces.  I cut up wieners so that they looked like miniature octopi.  Obentos, mine and Japanese mothers, were a work of art!!!  It was easy to get carried away in the early years!

(By the way, I sent Takumi to kindergarten a couple of times with sandwiches, a whole apple, a bag of rice crackers and Oreo cookies and he came home upset because his friends teased him and said he'd just brought snacks that day for lunch.  I went back to making him a rice obento.)

My obento making mornings stopped when the kids were in elementary school.  Good!  I was tired of getting up early and making a full meal before 7:00.  The education policy was no longer keeping a connection between mother and child, it was now, "train these students to appreciate all types of foods, not just what mom caters to".  Students were required (and probably still are) to eat everything on their tray, though some teachers allowed them to leave ONE thing untouched.  Leiya had trouble with school lunches because there were many things she didn't like.

When Takumi went to high school, he was back to obento lunches again.  Grrr.

"He eats a lot more than he did in kindergarten!"

So I was back to making grilled fish, simmered meat and vegetables, wrapped rice balls and macaroni salad before 6:30 in the morning.  And while I was at it, I decided to make Tetsu a lunch too.  Might as make two if I'm going to all that work in the morning.  And I had my ulterior motives.

I made Tetsu pay me $3 a lunch!!!  Such a conniving woman this foreign wife is!!!

I figured Tetsu was paying twice as much for a bowl of noodles everyday at lunchtime.  If I was going to daily do something that I wasn't thrilled about, then I might not mind as much if I had a little play money coming in (and Tetsu'd be saving money too).  I gave thought to making Takumi pay me $3 also but Tetsu said that was taking it too far.  It was my duty as a mother to supply Takumi with a free lunch...  true...

Oh well, this started out as a tale of Tetsu and my outing yesterday... 

We finally took our lunch to a hot spa place and after enjoying an outdoor bath we sat at a picnic bench in a nearby park. That's why there are pictures of the interesting tree with a "hole" in the middle of it...  Two trees had grown together.  And the daffodils were surrounding the picnic bench.

My hastily put together obento was a slice of salty salmon, salad, chicken and bamboo shoots and a sweet omelet.

The omelet was made by rolling it with seaweed strips as I cooked it.

Tetsu laughed when he saw the aluminum lunch boxes the obentos were packed in.

"You must have pulled these out of the depths of the cupboard!   These aluminum boxes look like something from the war years.  How long has it been since you made obento?"

I didn't make him pay me $3. But I did let him buy me bottled tea.


Quilter Kathy said...

Oh my goodness...such a work of art and so beautiful!
I would not want to eat such a pretty lunch!
Lucky family!
Thanks for the smile today!

Nancy J said...

And I thought we were one of the few who took lunch and hot drinks when we go out. Yes, I made lunches for many, many years, school ones, when Hugh was working I did his, and for our boarder, a tall teenage boy who ate lots!!!Now I so appreciate a day when I am home alone, banana and yoghurt, Yummy!! Cheers from Jean

Craig said...

What a lovely (romantic) setting for a picnic. Your obentos looks delicious. Next week I will surprise(knock his socks off) and take my husband on a picnic. I'll tell him a lovely lady in Japan suggested it! Thank you for the idea. Pat McDonald

AnnieO said...

I would make a terrible Japanese mother! It was always my husband who made the kids' lunches (sandwich, fruit, cookie, of course!)

Love your story.

Julie Fukuda said...

As a kid, I was on lunch-box duty in our family and we made all the sandwiches on Sunday night and froze them. When my kids set off to school where there was a choice to either pack a lunch or buy one, we let them make the choice from their allowance. If they made their own, they could save the money for something else. I have six kids that are not only good at managing money but excellent cooks.

Amanda said...

Thank goodness for 'Western' lunches, of sandwiches, yogurt and fruit! Since I was working as a teacher full time from when my boys went to school it was all I could manage to make my own lunch. The boys both had school lunches and that was that!

Cassandra said...

Pretty obento! I'm intimidated by them. lol. I'm not nearly that creative!

Sandy S. said...

Oh, my goodness, I remember those days of daily obentos from Japanese kindergarten through high school for four kids. Really celebrated the day the last one was made for the last child to graduate!

Anonymous said...

I am always thrilled by your food.
The way it looks and I am sure it is very tasty also. Keep up the good work.
From Germany with love.

Lois Evensen said...

How fun! I just love your posts and all that I learn from them.

Sunday hugs from Port Canaveral where I have a civilized internet connection for a few short hours,