Are these the world's yummiest mummies Japanese mothers compete to create best-looking lunchboxes for their children
Mothers can be a competitive bunch at the best of times – but where food is concerned, their killer instinct really kicks in. Now, mothers in Japan are taking competitive culinary prowess to new levels – via their children's lunchboxes.
Kyaraben (meaning character lunchboxes) is the name given to this extreme lunchbox artistry, where rice balls, sushi, salad and fruit is shaped into cartoon characters like Hello Kitty or SpongeBobSquare Pants, or animals.
Websites and blogs offer tips on how to create the colourful creatures (see cloud9food, gajiinlife and annared.com for excellent examples),
and mothers have got to such a high level with their culinary artistry
that national competitions are held to give awards to the best.
American mothers have jumped on the bandwagon too – with one making a perfect Miss Piggy out of pasta shapes.
Pandas crafted from rice and seaweed with a garnish of lettuce and potatoes
A SpongeBob SquarePants kyaraben is a feat of food engineering
A Miss Piggy carb-fest, made of pasta, bread, peas and raspberries
Edamame beans and rice make up this chirpy lunchbox friend, with raspberries and blackberries as a background
Twin pigs crafted from seaweed and rice, finished off with edamame benas and carrots cut into floral shapes
An owl made using rice, carrot circles, mushrooms for feathers, and surrounded by a forest of broccoli, sweetcorn and tofu
With other nations taking on the trend, not all bento boxes have solely Japanese ingredients – like this tiger corn muffin box
A quacking great lunch from this duck-themed box, with potato and carrot forming the bird, and chopped vegetables creating its habitat
Flower power from this kyaraben – tofu and olives or sliced fruit forming flowers
Rudolph bento, with soy rice and grapes forming a festive scene