Bento-style Meals

My husband and I have traveled twice to Kyoto and both times mealtime provided us with some of the most enjoyable memories of our journeys there. I especially liked the pace of dining in Kyoto coupled with the delightful parade of tasty morsels that were brought to the table.

Recently we were talking about food and I recalled how much I enjoyed eating that way. When we got back to Tucson we never got into Japanese cuisine. That was partly because the only Japanese food available here is found in sushi restaurants. My husband is a recovering Catholic who is not a lover of fish and that’s the first thing he thinks of when he sees a sushi sign. So I’ve never seriously tried my hand at preparing Japanese food.

But, last week, it occurred to me that maybe I could modify the Japanese style of presenting food and apply it to the foods we eat at home. I went to Cost Plus and purchased a variety of small plates and bowls to use in presenting bento-like meals. After surfing the interenet for information on Japanese cuisine, and ordering several books from Amazon, I was armed with a basic understanding so I could play more extensively with this approach to our meals.

My first adventure was an experiment in serving sandwiches. Instead of assembling and presenting a freshly made sandwich on a plate, I arranged small plates of sandwich ingredients on trays and we each assembled our own sandwiches as part of the mealtime experience. The plates were very appealing, and we both enjoyed building our sandwiches and savoring the experience.

I must say it has been great fun. And consuming the food – even more fun! Here are some of my first kaiseki-Tucson-style meals.

My first attempt included steamed sausage, caponata, miso soup, cauliflower with a vinaigrette drizzle and tomato with ranch dressing, rice.

The next tray consisted of fried rice, soy dipping sauce, grilled portobello mushroom, butternut squash seasoned with spicy salt, steamed sausage and onion pancakes.
Onion Cake Bento

A sandwich meal included sliced tomato, pickles, mayonaise, tuna salad, cold curried soup, whole wheat bread and apple wedges.
Sandwich Bento

I don’t expect to prepare this type of dinner every night of the week. But I do hope to serve bento-style meals at least two or three nights each time it’s my turn to cook.

Note: In 1993 when we began retirement, we also began a take-turn cooking arrangement. It goes like this; you are on your own for breakfast and lunch meals. Dinner is provided by the “cook for the week” who also shops and cleans up. So, for the week you don’t cook, you are a guest in your own home!

This has worked well for us, tho I must admit that my husband would respond to you with a slightly different point of view!!!!