Each time I bring a bento to work, I wrap it in a napkin. My wife makes large napkins that verge on the size of a furoshiki. For those not in the know, a furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. A furoshiki can be used to carry a bento box, books, a watermelon, and even bottles if you are so inclined. I found instructions on how to tie furoshiki here.
This bento is the most basic of basics: peanut butter and marmalade, some yogurt, a wee chocolate bar, and some fruit. To tie the furoshiki for a rectangular box, follow these steps:
1) Lay out your box on the cloth. The box I have been using a lot lately is a reusable take-away box from Bertucchi’s, a chain Italian restaurant. See, bento boxes don’t need to be expensive :)
2) Bring one corner down across the length of the bow. I always consider the longest side the length, as long and length both begin with L.
3) Bring up the opposite corner, letting the point hang off the side.
4) Bring up one side along the width. I treat this a little like wrapping a Christmas gift by making sure that it looks tidy.
5) Bring up the opposite side, and tie both points into a simple, yet tight, knot.
6) You are done. You can carry it by the handle that the knot you just tied makes. I’ve received quite a few stares and compliments when my co-workers have seen my bento tied-up in a furoshiki. Once, one asked me, “Where did you get that cute little basket?”
I told her that it was just pretty much a Tupperware container tied-up in a napkin. I undid the whole thing, setting out the napkin as a table cloth, and she was very impressed.
“You always have the best ideas for your lunches,” she said.
I thanked her, then explained that it was just a traditional Japanese way of tying cloth so that you can transport goods, and she just smiled and nodded.
For me, bento is really about eating in a special way that makes you happy. Sometimes it is with little picks or cutouts, other times, it’s just the way something is presented. Today, my wife asked me how I feel since I’ve started eating bento-based lunches.
“I feel happier,” I said. “Lunchtime is more exciting and special. While I prepare my own lunch, it just makes me happy to see something that I’ve worked on, something that is special. It has turned my lunchtime into leisure time — I enjoy myself more, and can return to work feeling much more rested.”
I think that part of it is that I have to take time to set out my furoshiki, heat-up anything that needs heating, and actually look at and appreciate my food.
So, until next time, remember to eat happily!