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There are two advantages to the large variety of foodstuffs that go into a typical bento, or Japanese boxed lunch. Not only do they provide a diverse collection of flavors and vital nutrients, they also give aesthetically minded chefs plenty of options for arranging them in an expressive manner.

Of course, “expressive” can end up meaning very different things depending on what the bento-maker wants to express. In happy times, the result might be fun and playful chara-ben, boxed lunches that resemble popular fictional characters. But on the other end of the spectrum lie shikaeshi bento, “boxed lunches of revenge” that are as spiteful as they are creative.

In some cultures, the whole idea of revenge bento might seem absurd. After all, if you’re mad at someone, why not tell them to make their own lunch?

Japanese families, however, traditionally have a pretty rigid distribution of housework, in which almost all kids, and some husbands, aren’t responsible for preparing or procuring their own weekday lunches. As such, even if family members are feuding, whoever’s ordinarily in charge of getting the bentos ready in the morning will continue doing so.

That doesn’t mean all is forgiven, though.

For example, grilled salmon is a time-honored bento staple. However, this Twitter user got into an argument with the chef during the cooking process, and so when lunchtime rolled around, this charred chunk of fish was waiting for him.

Another bento mainstay is umeboshi, or pickled plum. Usually, you’ll find one lying in a patch of rice, where it adds a bit of color and acts as a sort of healthy palate cleanser. Some people who’re really big umeboshi fans might even find two inside their lunch box, which is probably a pleasant surprise. This, however, was not.

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But these are both entry-level revenge bento tactics. There are also techniques that work on a more complex psychological level. For example, why not kill your enemy with kindness by packing them a bento so lovey-dovey they’ll spend their whole lunch break squirming self-consciously as their classmates or coworkers point and giggle?

You can also fake out the target by playing with their expectations. For example, send them off with a smile and the promise that there’s curry in their bento. However, keep to yourself the fact that their lunch contains absolutely none of the tasty Indian dish itself, but rather consists entirely of plain white rice with the word “curry” (カレー in Japanese katakana characters) written in dried seaweed.

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Or, if you prefer the more direct route, you could just spell out baka (バカ in katakana), which can translate as “idiot,” “jerk,” or any of a half-dozen other insults you don’t expect your food to be suddenly hurling at you.

Or if those straight jabs aren’t enough, you could just go for the uppercut with kuso, or “shit.”

▼ What do you do when someone is telling you to eat shit, but you’re still really hungry?

Of course, even when the words are angry, actions speak louder. Actions like subtly replacing the cherry tomatoes commonly found in bento, and eaten in a single bite, with super-spicy habanero chili peppers in your son’s lunch because you got into a fight with each other.

So much animosity…You know, before you let your anger consume someone else’s consumables, maybe it’s best to take a moment to stop and remember another message you can use bento to deliver.

Gomen/I’m sorry

Naver Matome
Top image: Twitter (1, 2) (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Twitter (1, 2)