Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lady Gaga, Queen Elsa, and Mushy Mushrooms: Food as Art

"Food is everything, and nothing." For Samantha Lee, food is a means of artistic expression, and a way to convince her two children to eat healthily. Samantha has gained a measure of fame due to social media, especially Instagram, as she displays her amazing food creations to the public. Samantha practices kyaraben, similar to the Japanese tradition of bento boxes, for her children, photographs the outcome, and posts to social media, along with instructions so her followers can make their own at home. Bento boxes are Japanese lunch boxes in which parents create an elaborate scene with food. Samantha has created a variety of masterpieces, including cartoon characters, pop stars, and scenery of famous landmarks. She also makes cutesy animals in order to make healthy food more appealing to her kids. Samantha uses a variety of mediums, but uses a lot of rice, noodles, seaweed, vegetables, and eggs, in order to promote healthy living.
New York City
Let it go, Let it go!
In an article I read about the making of bento boxes for the creating of the definition of motherhood in Japanese culture, the making of the bento box reflected on the mother herself, and her status as a mother. Mothers felt the pressure from the school, as well as other mothers, to make elaborate lunches to take to school. Pressure was felt by the children as well, as they had to eat everything in their lunch (leaving food behind was not an option.) In this sense, bento boxes were a part of ritual, as children had to have them in order to be normal, and could be stigmatizing, as children who did not have them were viewed by their peers as weird. 

Because of the greater number of working mothers, as well as stay at home dads and single dads, bento boxes are becoming their own industry. Parents who did not or could not put forth the effort could buy pre-made bento boxes in grocery stores.

In my opinion, Samantha Lee's work has nothing to do with pressure and competition, but is just a way to show her kids she cares, as well as a way to get them to eat healthier foods that they normally would not eat. I think its a beautiful means of expressing oneself, while working with food, so I decided to try it out for myself. You can figure out which one belongs to me ;).
Tortilla mushrooms with a pepperoni sun and ladybug
Lady Gaga, with hair of egg
Gangam Style!


  1. I love this post! I was always jealous of the kids who brought their lunch to school and their moms had taken the time to do something special to their food. Even a note seemed special, but this takes on a whole new meaning. It's like telling a story with your child's food and it makes me think "how intimate!" Certainly something I know I would like to do if I were to ever become a parent. What an easy way to bond with your kids! You know?

  2. Exactly! I think it'd be fun to do when I have kids, but I'd definitely need some practice own little bento box took a half an hour, and at one point I had to wash my pepperoni because I spilled chili powder on it :P It's a really fun and, as you pointed out, intimate way to connect with your kids.