My 'Halloween' bento is to honor the "Hello Japan" challenge that I found earlier in the month. It's a fantastic site that has a different challenge each month to celebrate Japanese culture and encourage people to learn more and maybe try some things that they wouldn't otherwise. That was definately the case for me with this month's challenge: Read spooky Japanese horror stories. Horror stories are something I don't often read, but I took the plunge and went to some of the links provided. I learned a lot about japanese ghosts and 'monsters', including things about Tanuki.
I learned two surprising things about Tanuki. First that they are a real animal. I saw pictures and they are so cute! But I had always thought they were mythological. Second was about their um...robe/weaponry which is not at all what it seems and is a bit surprising.
Also I truly enjoyed reading the stories by Lafcadio Hearn who compiled Japanese ghost stories in the late 1800s. One of the most fascinating things for me was the similarities to the Celtic fairy tales that were compiled in Scotland and Ireland by Joseph Jacobs during the same period. It was mainly the narrative style that reminded me of the Celtic stories, however it struck me that the stories in both areas had similar aspects. The fact that they were trying to have some understanding and control over scary situations by explaining them in terms of 'otherworldy' phenomena was clear. And it brought to mind the fact that no matter what culture you grow up in, all humans basically fear the same things and our imaginations run in the same direction when given the opportunity by the things around us.
Now back to the bento! On the left there were one large pumpkin onigiri and one small, both with broccoli stems. Some Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, carrot maple leaves, a cherry tomato, and some baby corn spears. On the right was a large amount of udon noodles in peanut sauce with broccoli and a tanuki on top. Mr. Tanuki was made of bread, fruit roll-up and white cheese with a huge carrot hat behind him and an udon noodle hat-tie. He looks kind of silly instead of scary, but I'm not good at the scary stuff! I did want him to have that hat straight behind which is a traditional depiction.
Thank you, Hello Japan! I enjoyed this challenge so much and I can't wait for the next one!
The rice colors aren't showing up very well in the photo, but the Jack o lantern is orange rice and the robot head was yellow rice. Nori was used for the faces, a broccoli stem for the jack'o'lantern's stem and whole cloves for the robot's antennae. Carrot ribbons were a great addition to the bento for fun! A-chan loves to eat carrot ribbons. There were also some garbanzo beans in a half moon shaped tin with a feta ghost on top. The feta had a hole in it just where the ghosts's mouth needed to be!