It has been a while since I made a Charaben (or Kyaraben) style bento. Charaben is a type of food art in which a bento lunch is designed to look like a character (character + bento = Charaben). The reason I started making bento lunches was because I loved charabens and I figured I would give it a try. Unfortunately, since my lunches are always vegetarian, I have a more limited ingredient selection which makes designing charaben difficult. I have imposed an even greater restriction on myself by not using rice (a staple in bento making, especially character sculpting) in my lunches because it isn't a food that I am particularly fond of. I do occassionally use rice in my lunches, but it certainly isn't often. So, lately I have had charaben writer's block.
Recently I purchased the "Chuck Charles" dress from ModCloth for an upcoming event, and while browsing through the clearance section for some deals, I came across some adorable nail-shaped party picks. I couldn't resist. Of course, my first thought was "Bob the Builder!"
I have never actually seen the Bob the Builder show, but I know it is popular, and he is a pretty cute character. In fact, last summer I made a Bob the Builder birthday cake. I think this bento came out much better. Look at the detail on the nail-shaped picks below, aren't they adorable?!? (note: if you are thinking of ordering these, you should know that the ends are very sharp, and may not be appropriate for kids lunches).
For Bob's face I used Lightlife imitation turkey lunchmeat. As you can see in the picture below (top left corner) I drew a sketch of Bob to work off of in the kitchen. Using a dedicated-to-food xacto blade, I cut the shape of Bob's head freehand (hence the odd looking ears). I then cut his hard hat from a yellow American cheese slice. Lucky for me, Bob's smile is exactly the same as the smile on my Nori-punch, which saved me a lot of trouble. I gobbled up the scraps as I was preparing the rest of the lunch, although I could have included them in the sandwhich he rested on.
The final lunch contained an imitation turkey and swiss sandwich on rye flatbread. Tomato and Peppers on the side, and some grapes for dessert.
Personally, I think this is my best Charaben yet, which is amazing considering the fact that it took me less than 10 minutes to prepare, which is highly unusual. Some charaben take hours. I guess keeping things simple is sometimes best.