Graduation Bento by Marie-Laure

No.39

On June 6 this year the first Bento Beginner’s Course finished and the students got an assignment
from me to make a graduation bento.  I gave no special theme,  the students could make a bento as 
they like, but I did say to them to remember what they have learned through the 6 lessons and put the
lessons into practice. The lessons they learned were the basic of the basics. Many of my students are
already expert bento makers but they patiently put up with my basic lessons which I know were things they 
already know, and I thank them for their patience very much.  Thank you my students!!!
On June 23 I received the first graduation bento from Marie-Laure in France, and here it is.  

Thank you Marie-Laure. I have never met you before (yet!), but I feel I am able to see you through this bento! 

You must be a gentle and very feminine person. That is the impression I received when I saw this bento. 
This bento box is Sakura Hanami from Bento&co. It is a fine and feminine box as well. 

The most important question to me when I see bento photos is: “Do I want to eat this bento?” 
Remember, bento is a lunch outside your home. You must be doing something like working or studying.
It must be giving you nourishment and energy to keep on doing whatever you are doing out there. I like
bento photos which make me feel I want to eat!!! and, to Marie-Laure’s bento I should answer “Yes I do!”

Marie-Laure writes : ” Hello Rie-san!! I send you the photo of my bento graduation : minced chicken,
cantonese rice, tamagoyaki, cucumber rolls, beet with cream cheese and carrot with sesame seeds.
I hope that my bento respect the rules. I had difficulties to arrange the different ingredients.
I think I need more different color and size silicon cups. Do not hesitate to criticize so I can progress. 
Have a nice day!  Marie-Laure”
Well, she makes a very gentle and feminine bento but she might be strong too. 

She says she is able to take criticism to become better…. I love it!

————————————————————————————————————————–

Dear Marie-Laure,

I give this review to you as you are ready to hear what I think.  I think your attitude is wonderful and
I am sure it will lead you through your bento life. I have also been through many criticism for what I made,
but we should be able to separate criticism. There are 2 kinds of criticism. One is an ill-meaning
criticism to hurt you and the other is so called constructive criticism to make you better. We shall love
the latter one and we rather call it “suggestions for improvement”.  Also a review is a review. It is
only an opinion of a person.  You do not have to do things I tell you if you yourself do not feel comfortable
with. Now you have finished the beginner’s course, so the next step is to make your own style. Your bento
is your creation, not mine. I give you my thoughts and if you agree with some of them, I am just happy. 
If any of my ideas will be useful for you, I am very glad.  So here I go.

First of all, your food ingredients are very good. Very much in variety, lots of vegetables that you like.
(You wrote it is minced chicken, but it looks like some smoked (?) chicken filet to me. )  I liked that you
have chosen a good variation of food ingredients.  Shapes are very interesting as well as the colors.
I can see you were working hard to decide what you should put in and how they should be prepared.
Good job!!  I noticed you used a long slice of cucumber as a divider in the middle of the bento box!!
What a good idea!! The dark green line of the cucumber skin is very visible and gives a good line in
the photo as well.  Your bento box is a square one with no in-built divider, it gives you much freedom
to choose the way you can use, but that sometimes gives you a headache. Too many choices make
things too complicated. Right? But you divided the box into two by the slice of cucumber, and then divide
each large sections into 2 again and you sort of created many compartments for your different kinds of
food. That is very good, as it makes the whole things so tidy.  You said you need to buy more different sized
silicon cups. I am just guessing but you said that because you wanted to use a bigger cup to place next to
the rice?  If I am mistaken, I am sorry, and maybe that could be an idea, but if you have used more of this
cucumber slices (great idea!) to divide rice and carrot & chicken,  and even one more small cucumber slice
between carrots and chicken,  I think your bento will be more creative. But keep the red silicon cup for
the beets and cream cheese, as I think that red color is strikingly pretty and it goes very well with the
chopsticks on the side.  And if you are using many cucumber slices like this, you should take out the
soft white part with seeds. They are full of water and you would not want wet bento for your lunch.
Take the soft part out and use only the firm part with the green skin on. It might not be wide enough
to be the divider for the box, but if you pile 2 slices on top of each other, I think you will make it.

I loved the cute shaped carrot stars, interesting rolls of cucumber, great tamagoyaki (good job!). I am curious
what the cantonese rice is.  I can see green peas and carrots among rice, is it like a piraf? You have a colorful
bento and this rice has the same tone of the color and that is fine, but if I may give you an alternative to this,
rice could be a plain white rice. I see you have the 2 pieces of tamagoyaki on top of the rice.  Of course
they can stay on white rice too. To give some contrast and if you like nori, you can cut a small piece of
nori (in round shape or even in a star shape!) and place it under the tamagoyaki on the rice. Do you see
the picture?  And of course you can enjoy the cute carrot star on top of the rice too. That can be one alternative to try! 

That is all what I have to say. Dear Marie-Laure, I am so glad you diligently followed the course and
that you showed me the result. I hope you continue to keep on making good bentos! Here is your diploma,
Congratulations!! xx  Rie

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