|From Bento & co’s blog
It maybe needless to say this is Huong’s bento. With this bento she won the grand prize at Bento & co’s contest 2 years ago, many of us still remember. I think it is a classy and a very beautiful bento and all the delicate and fancy details of the consisting components in this bento are so amazingly well coordinated and the high-quality photo gives us a crystal clear image of the beautiful bento. We had this picture on our booth wall at the exhibition in Frankfurt and it was very eye-catching.
I happen to have the same box at home. And, as you know it by now, I am a very curious person.
There is one thing that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now and I decided to give myself a challenging project to prove it. And I am hoping it will be a message for you from me, a reminder I would like to give to you who love bento. Through this project of recreating Huong’s bento in my own kitchen my purpose is to invite you one step further into the real bento world.
Technically speaking, if you have some basic cooking skills and a plenty of time, I think it is possible to recreate someone else’s bento to a certain extent. Specially a bento like Huong’s, which consists of 5 individual small parts, will be a tempting and an easier object. It may take time but if you manage to make all the parts, it itself completes the whole bento.
I looked at the photo and made a list of things to do. I was not sure what ingredients Huong used to make her bento but I found them in her bento descriptions. Although she had some ingredients which were not so familiar to me nor available in my country, I allowed myself to replace them with something similar in color. The greatest help was my iPad, I had the photo of her bento all the time on my kitchen counter and the enlarged image gave me good information and details. What a technology!
It was rather amusing to do experiments in order to find out the cutting method she used. (She must have a good knife!) I am not sure at all if I did the right thing but finding out how she cut and formed these vegetable decorations became the most time-consuming task of all the work related to this project. I dare to show you this close-up photo in hope of getting your sympathetic approval. 🙂 Be gentle to me.
Oh boy, this knotting 2 thin sliced carrot strips was not so easy! If you try it yourself, you will see it best. Huong’s bento is full of fancy and delicate touch and beautiful details everywherei n the box.
But my dear bento friends, my message for you is not to become a better food cutter or a decorator.
When the 5 parts were finally done, I was not sure if I made a right thing. I thought having all the components made like hers would give a complete reproduction of Huong’s bento, but I realized I was wrong. Something was definitely missing there….
Even though all the parts were made, it was not a bento at all. The vital binding factor which I so cherish was completely missing and maybe you know what it is. It you have read my blog post “Bento & I”, you may remember that I said bento is not only a packed food for your lunch but also a kind of communication tool between the person who makes it and the person who eats it. It is more obvious when a person makes a bento for someone she/he loves that there is a message of love and thoughts that is binding each ingredient in the bento box. Her bento description also says Huong made this bento for her dear husband who sometimes worked late and she brought this bento to his office.
My reproduction didn’t have that. I was more occupied with the looks. I used a yellow pumpkin to make the yellow cup on the left. It was cooked alright but no flavors added. I was afraid if the seasonings would crumble the pumpkin and the form and the color would be ruined and it won’t look like Huong’s bento. The goal of my project was to make as close appearance as possible to Huong’s bento, the taste was not the major issue.
Last week someone was telling me her frustrations that some of the finalists’ bentos were technically difficult to make but not so ideal as a bento. I was rather sad to hear it. But is it true? I did agreed with her that they were of high technical quality but I didn’t feel they were made of struggles. I imagine their talent is so great that these skillful work could be created much easier than we think and there was much thought and love behind the bentos, at least I felt it, and I believe many others felt it too. We can not see thoughts and love with our own eyes but bentos with full of emotions touch people’s hearts and move people’s feelings and I think that led many people to vote for them.
I will start soon a new project with many bento lovers from many countries and I would like to enjoy the joy of making bento together with them. I earnestly pray that they will learn how to put their own thoughts into their bento and may their bento shows it to others and touches people’s heart. It will be helpful if you make bentos for others, someone you love, someone you care. Just imagine their face. How will they look like when they open the lid of your bento? That will give you the most important lesson.
I made 5 parts but not a bento.
This is why there is no photo of my reproduced “Huong’s bento” with all the 5 components assembled together. I think it will be so literally “tasteless” to put my fake bento next to Huong’s genuine bento.
Huong’s bento was a genuine winning bento – the theme of the competition was “Making a bento for someone you love”, yes it was.
Rie, Bento Specialist
Bento & co