The tyranny of bento

I love a pretty-looking meal as much as the next person—skyscraper food, molecular gastonomy, you name the food trend and I’ve probably loved it. And there’s no question the kinds of lunch bentos magicians like Susan Yuen make are spectacular. I bow down in awe to lunch art like this:

Bento and photo by Susan Yuen

But I have to admit to a major bout of irritation when I see articles like the one in last week’s Globe and Mail about how to ensure your kids eat school lunch by making them froot loop necklaces and carving their initials into apples (unfortunately the article—mostly photos—didn’t make it online other than this one pic).

Egad. Isn’t making lunch in the scramble before school and work hard enough without setting the bar so high? And while I’m all for making meals, especially packed lunches, appealing to kids (a mix of colours and tastes, cute containers if that’s what turns them on), putting faces on sandwiches and and carving out apples to serve as bowls for chicken salad is simply taking it too far. I pity the poor first-time parents who read that article and figured that’s what’s expected of them—every day for the rest of the school year.

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