I decided to take a trip to my favorite pan-Asian market on the way home today, to find myself a new (kitschy, plastic) bento box. I already have a non-divided kit, but Iâ€™m hoping to find a kidsâ€™ kit with some goofy, cartoony graphics. Super deluxe bonus if it has a matching, insulated tote. And, you know, while Iâ€™m here I may as well poke around. The prices on produce are the best around.
I walk in, I grab a use-a-basket, I turn toward the produce… and look! Right there, with all of the… okay, I donâ€™t know what the other stuff is, but look! There are bags and bags of my favorite assortment of â€œwheat flour crackers.â€ Screw the vegetarian thingie, Iâ€™m getting the yummy crab crackers!
Fine, the rest of the shopping will be vegetarian. Hmmm, some â€œtofu cutletâ€ (looks like fried tofu to me, but is less expensive than the packages labeled as such), some… Okay, wait. I have a whole mess of broccoli and carrots and yams in the fridge. I donâ€™t need any choy. The lily bulbs look interesting, but I donâ€™t know what to do with them. Same deal with the banana flowers. The instant-noodle aisle takes me FOREVER to get through, now that Iâ€™m checking all of the packages for animal products. Sure, some of the packages are clearly labeled with â€œchicken-abalone flavorâ€ or pictures of sliced beef, but many are too difficult to judge without reading the fine print. I finally get a packet of Vietnamese â€œvegetarian instant rice noodlesâ€ and also some bean threads, artificial spare ribs flavor. Wait… artificial spare ribs flavor? Seriously? The ingredients claim artificial pork powder. Iâ€™d be skeptical, but hey, the packet says â€œMade with Japanese technologyâ€ right there on the front! In English! The packaging also lists the ingredients in French, German, Vietnamese (as one would expect), and Japanese, because, you know, they made the technology. These are the most international noodles ever!
A new jar of furikake (free of bonito flakes), some Thai glutinous rice, and now itâ€™s time to be more adventurous. First, I find a bag of mini pasta shells, except theyâ€™re made with rice flour instead of wheat flour. Heaven! Unusual, but not exactly adventurous. Really, to be adventurous would be to go back to the produce aisle and get those lily bulbs. But instead… I picked out a can of Thai coconut jelly. With pineapple. Not exactly going to win a medal for bravery, but the vegetarian thing does keep me (perhaps thankfully) from putting totally unknown stuff in my belly. There was a time, not too long ago, where Iâ€™d be willing to try it if I could figure out how to cook it. Unless, like chicken feet, it had visible toenails. Thatâ€™s just a no-go. Also, no eyes. Thanks for offering.
After all that? I did not buy a new bento box. The store carries a small assortment of respectable Lock-n-Lock boxes, but they were not the divided variety… easier for washing, but more difficult for packing. My fingers are crossed for next time!