Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It's a hot mess

My dad was in the Navy during WWII, serving on a repair ship that went alongside the big boats and served as fix-it guys for everything from electric motors to cannons.  Like most of the men I have known who served in that war, he did not talk about it very much. 

Now and then he would pull out some sort of souvenir from a big trunk he kept upstairs.  I wound up with a Japanese knife - a scabbard - and what I always called a Japanese mess kit.  Dad said that his ship came upon a Japanese ship that was still floating but had no survivors aboard, and so he and his shipmates jumped aboard and made off with all sorts of stuff.  That's where this stuff came from, and probably some stuff that he chose not to bring home. Guys on Dad's ship, the USS Delta, used to drink Aqua-Velva in their coffee to get alcohol, and they also made some sort of homebrew by fermenting raisins in large crocks.  Dad did not partake in these exotic libations, but he used Skin Bracer exclusively for the rest of his life.

Japanese Bento
I did not know until this very day that the mess kit - an aluminum box with little dividers that separated rice from fish and I don't know what-all else they served in the Japanese Navy - is and was called a Bento Box.  They are still popular in Japan, and from what I read, people go to great lengths to fill the spots within with all sorts of tasty food.  And they try to arrange it in a colorful, pleasing fashion.  And they don't make them of aluminum any more, the better to allow microwaving.

In America, not to be outdone, we send the young-un's off to school with our US version of the Bento Box:

American Yucko

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