written by Christopher Salyers
Mark Batty Publisher | ISBN 9780979048661
Hardback – 80 pages
Member’s price: $22.46
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Dating back several hundred years, the Japanese bento box is as integral a part of the country’s culinary identity as sushi. Today, a contemporary version of the bento box exists, inspired by the rampant popularity of movies, television shows and manga. These charaben, made by parents (mostly mothers) eager to bring attention to their children’s lunch boxes, comprise food crafted into visually creative, appealing and recognizable forms, and are as much about planning and preparation as nutrition.
What better way to make children eat than to turn their midday meals into cartoon characters and video games? With Face Food: The Visual Creativity of Japanese Bento Boxes, writer and designer Christopher D Salyers documents the very real phenomenon of how rice, seaweed, mushrooms, tofu, hot dogs, fish cakes and just about any other edible delight you can imagine are shaped into the likes of Pikachu, Daraemon and Cinderella, bringing health, heart and imagination to the bento box, not to mention a bit of one-upmanship. A brief how-to guide, ingredient lists and interviews with charabenenthusiasts illuminate the many dynamic reasons behind this wholly Japanese pursuit.