There would be no bento without boiled rice. And the most treasured ones are made with love.
The use of the bento box dates back to the 12th Century, during the Kamakura era (1185-1333), when the possibility of pre-cooking rice, hoshi-ii was discovered. But bento boxes only began to appear for sale, starting in train stations, in 1885.
In the late 19th Century – in both India and the Western world – the custom of bringing food from home, usually in a metallic pail, increased with the numbers of factory workers.
But beyond the practical value, in Japan this popular custom took on a more significant meaning: even today, the most prized and precious bentō is the one prepared by your wife or girlfriend, which is then taken and shown off in the office, as a symbol of how much you are loved.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.