Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bento a Japanese term applied to the small items of food which go into packed lunch or picnic boxes, and to the box itself. The name itself derives from a Chinese dialect word meaning ‘convenient’. The box can vary from utterly simple to very grand, and the contents likewise—but they are always elegantly arranged and they always include rice. This is almost always non-glutinous rice (uruchi mai). For special occasions, glutinous rice (mochigome) is used and always steamed. With the addition of little red azuki beans it is called seki-han (red rice) and could appear as bento.