That is Highly recommended, a column devoted to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
Let me tell you my shameful story: In The Before Times, even though I work for a food magazine, I never brought my own lunch to the office. At home, I mostly cooked to satisfy my cravings, so I rarely had leftovers and didn’t make a meal plan. At lunchtime I picked up a very overdressed salad from the nearest bougie fast-casual chain (sad) or looked for leftovers from the recipe development and cross-testing at room temperature in the test kitchen (less sad).
But now I’m back in the office a couple of times a week bringing my own lunch. Not because I finally figured out how to cook on a large scale for myself, but because of VANITY. One of my few pandemic purchases was a absolutely delicious bento lunch box from Takenaka, a Japanese company that is almost 100 years old. The stackable rectangular compartments are made of sturdy, recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is suitable for both dishwashers and, above all, microwaves. The lower container comes with a handy lid that prevents even the cheekiest remains from spilling into my work bag. I caught that red-and-gum-pink bento with a matching one furoshiki, a limited (and sold out) collaboration with Poketo, but you can choose from a wide variety of pretty hues, from raspberry to pale mint green.
Takenaka Bento snack box
When I saw Takenakas Bentos on Instagram, I imagined how I would pack the bottom with white rice and the lid with it Christina Chaey’s Dubu Jorimthat I do at this point every week. Or maybe Andy Baraghani’s marinated lentils at the bottom and a few oranges and cashew nuts on top for later snacking. All of a sudden I was … meal planning. So, apologize to all the salad bars within 30 meters of my office – I moved on. I am fine. My sunny little bento lunch box is both form and function, making it a pleasure to bring my lunch instead of a chore. You eat with your eyes, my mom always says. Vanity runs in the family I think.