Saturday, May 14, 2016

Baon ala bento

"Baon ala bento"
Sun.Star Davao, May 14, 2016

The coming school-year is less than a month away and the daily grind of preparing for our kids’ baon will surely keep us busy once again.
Some creative moms have gone a notch higher by not only whipping up nutritious meals but too-pretty-to-eat kiddie delights as well.

“Bento “Kyaraben or Charaben” (character bento) is a style of elaborately-arranged bento (Japanese boxed lunch) which features food decorated to look like people, characters from popular media, animals, and plants. Originally, a decorated bento was intended to interest children in their food and to encourage a wider range of eating habits. It has now evolved to the point where national contests are held”, describes Wikipedia.

Recently, Sky Language Center conducted its “Basic Character Bento Workshop” by Russet Cainglet, a former school teacher turned homemaker and mom of two. She initially learned the art of bento through online tutorial videos.

The workshop started with a short talk by Karina Cadiogan of Sky Language Center of Davao. She shared basic Japanese (Nihongo) phrases on food etiquette as well as a short description on the language center.

Sky Language Center provides quality language tutorial classes for students and professionals of different ages. It also cater to kids, as young as 7 years old, who would like to learn foreign languages such as French, German , Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Nihongo.

Russet began the workshop with a presentation on the basics of bento making; the essential tools; a step-by-step demonstration; tips and techniques; and the importance of bento. 

Admitting to be a “sneaky chef”, Russet successfully incorporated veggies into her children’s diet by presenting them in a fun and playful way through their favorite cartoon, animal, toy or movie. But, preparing these detailed charaben designs entails a lot of patience and hard work, taking up an hour to more than an hour depending on the design.

But, seeing how her kids have turned into healthier eaters makes the painstaking efforts worthwhile for Russet. She explains that balance is an important aspect in bento-making ensuring that the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, veggies or fruits are taken into consideration with every bento art that lovingly comes out of her kitchen.

The artistic mom suggests that the easiest way to create a charaben is to utilize tools such as cookie cutters to cut shapes out of vegetables, egg sheets or ham, before putting them over rice or bread. Making shapes like balls using rice is a breeze with the help of cling wrap or plastic mold. Details such as eyes, nose and mouth may be added through nori (seaweed used for sushi) or vegetables.

After Russet’s short presentation, the eager participants were able to create their own bento boxes. It was an enjoyable and fruitful activity as mommies molded the rice, decorated the food and added some art to their whimsical bento creations.

Towards the end of the workshop, Mabelle Alderite of Tupperware Brands gave away some goodies and raffle prizes sponsored by Tupperware. The event concluded with the giving out of certificates of participation to those who joined the workshop.

Sky Language Center of Davao will be doing another batch of Basic Bento workshop soon. Stay updated and follow their Facebook account at and Instagram: @skylanguagedavao. Email them at Follow mommy Russet Cainglet @thismommymakes on Instagram.

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