Sometimes it seems that winter is never over. Who isn’t looking forward for longer, warmer days? Who isn’t craving walks in the sun, baths in the sea and vacations to scape somewhere beautiful? We do! But while we wait, we can think of fun ways to spend our days avoiding the cold streets. Staying at home can be tons of joyful moments too, if we are creative and imaginative.
Here we have a cool idea for a mother and daughter activity, which is all benefits: develop your child’s creativity, teach her about healthy food and good eating habits and spend sometime together sharing crazy ideas and laughs. We can do all that if we practice some kyaraben - or charaben - at home.
For these who are not familiar with the Asian culture, Kyaraben is a gastro-art, in which mothers prepare bentō - a single-portion take-out or home-packed meal - creating beautiful characters and landscapes with the ingredients. This gorgeous way to prepare meals was developed to make kids interested in food, and it has also become a way through which mothers bond with their children, in cultures where the time they can spend together is very little.
To start with our little kyaraben workshop, first of all, we should begin with the planning. Sit down with your daughter, take a paper and some colors, and draw your lunchbox design. What are your favorite animals? Panda bears and small ducklings are very common in Japanese kyaraben, for example. What’s your favorite movie character? Or how do you imagine a sea bottom landscape? Your imagination will set the limits! You can find some awesome ideas on the following link.
Once you have settled on a design, it is time to do the shopping list. Which ingredient will you be using for each color and piece? Rice, quinoa or cuscus are good base ingredients. Colorful vegetables cut in small pieces will do for the details. Algae works for black, and some salad can be a very healthy background. It’s time for a quick visit to the market, and we are ready to work!
Carefully, prepare and cook all the ingredients that have to be cooked, chopped or cut in particular shapes. You can use cookie molds with heart or flower shapes, for example, to easily and safely cut pieces of food. Then, find a lunchbox and start setting the design. Use the help of chopsticks, a toothpick or a small spoon to arrange the ingredients and all the elements of your beautiful creation.
And don’t forget that the fun doesn’t end here! Why not preparing an indoor picnic? Put pillows and a blanket on the floor, prepare a basket with your kyaraben lunchboxes and dress as if you where going for an excursion in the park. Play some music and enjoy your meal!