Lisa LeComte packs her lunch bucket almost every day. Except it's not a bucket at all -- it's a bento.
The traditional bento is a single-portion meal that usually comes in a plastic container (a bento box) and is common in Japanese cuisine. By common, we mean to say that bentos, bento boxes and bento box retailers are everywhere -- airports, malls, train stations and department stores. They can be simple or elaborate and can range in content from fish and meat to salads and noodles. They're also a pretty standard take-to-school (read: sack) lunch that moms and dads pack for their kids.
And these things get elaborate.
There are kyaraben, or character bentos, where the food is placed and formed to created popular cartoon characters, and gekakiben, or picture bentos, where the food is arranged to look like plants, animals and popular places.
Back to Lisa and her lunches. She started her blog, Lunch Bucket Bento in 2007 and has been packing her lunch, taking pictures, sharing recipes and holding bento box contests (nerd alert!) ever since. Her lunches range from sushi to sandwiches and burritos to hot dogs. They're never without comment and certainly never boring. Check out the pictures after the jump and you'll understand why ...
So where can you get these bentos? (We mean the boxes -- Lisa's not packing your lunch for you.) Lisa has contests and gives away boxes every now and then and Chow Bella, our foodie sister blog, attempts the question for this week's Ask the Critic.