Friday, March 14, 2008

Chew On This: Friday

There are two American charaben artisans profiled in Face Food, and they certainly outdo themselves in terms of creative food manipulation. One such success is Mari Baker Natakiya of Athens, Georgia (...of all the wonderful places!).


I asked her a few questions for the book, so here's a taste:

Why do you think so many Japanese mothers make these obentos?
I don't know that I can truly answer this question. I think perhaps that every mother has a different reason for making obentos. And, at least for me, it can change day-to-day depending on whether my daughter is sick or upset, happy or sad. In general, I would guess that it is because bentos and the personalized decorations are such a sweet way to remind children that they are loved and have their mother's full support even when they can't be right there beside them.


How much time and money do you spend making them?
More time than money goes into my bentos. Often I will make huge batches of food and freeze them which cuts down a lot on both the time I spend on individual bentos and the amount spent on food. When I am making three very decorative bentos at the same time I can spend as much as an hour to an hour and a half. Usually it takes me about thirty minutes to put three bentos together.

What separates this from an attractive-looking arrangement of food in a box?
That's a difficult question. I think maybe I would say that bento making is a hobby. Because the bento boxes, accessories and ideas make it such a special, enjoyable and creative expression of individuality it becomes more than just making a lunch. There is this great feeling when bento boxes are pulled out, a lot like when special plates come out for holidays. Bentos are completely unique and suited exactly to the tastes and needs of individuals and that makes them almost magical.


For more with Mari Baker Natakiya, check out Face Food.

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