I love the idea of making meals that are a feast for the senses as well as being nourishing. It’s a simple way we can delight ourselves and our loved ones, bringing a bit of fun and pleasure to an ordinary day. Taking time out to eat something a bit special helps us be present. Real happiness can be found in being fully present in a moment, enjoying and being grateful for simple acts such as eating good food, sipping a warm drink, or stretching out on your bed on a Saturday afternoon with the sun streaming through the window onto your cheek.
The Japanese seem to be experts at making moments precious, and food is a big part of it. Take bento as an example. These portable meals turn work or school lunch into an event, with a variety of delicious morsels all presented beautifully in separate compartments in a specially designed box.
I suspect lifting the lid of your bento box to reveal a charming spread of fish, chicken or tofu, colourful fresh and pickled vegetables, cut just so, sticky rice or dressed noodles and bright sprinklings of seasoning alongside splashes of spicy or umami sauce, is quite a consolation when working long hours. And, I haven’t read any research on it, but I’m pretty sure the rates of Japanese parents finding week-old uneaten lunches squashed in the bottom of their kids’ backpacks is considerably lower than ours.
If you’d like to give creating a special meal moment a go by making your own bento, our editor-at-large and recipe writer extraordinaire Niki Bezzant has produced three mouth-watering recipes for you to try this month.
I hope they bring you joy.