Food that has a face

  • 26 October 2015

For many people, it's disconcerting to look down at a plate and see something staring back up at you.

But a foodie trend coming out of East Asia is all about people creating fun faces, for their food.

Called "character bento" and "chigiri-pan" (Japanese for "tear-away bread") these rice balls, noodle plates and buns feature characters and faces. They're part of what's called kawaii ("cuteness"), a widespread theme in Japanese pop culture, and they're becoming hugely popular on social media. BBC Trending spoke to two popular food Instagrammers who shared photos of their creations.

Image copyright littlemissbento
Image caption "Making bento was more of a necessity for me as I needed to pack lunch for work," says Shirley Wong, who blogs under the name Little Miss Bento. "When I began making character bento, it was actually a spur of the moment decision, an attempt to combine two things that I love - kawaii culture and cooking."
Image copyright littlemissbento
Image caption "The ingredients really vary depending on bento design and characters that I am trying to achieve. But I would say that some of the common items you might find would include Japanese rice, seaweed, egg and vegetables," she says.
Image copyright littlemissbento
Image caption "In the past the trend was limited to Japan," she says, but recently character bentos have been taking off internationally.
Image copyright littlemissbento
Image caption Wong, who now lives in Singapore, says she has no qualms about eating her own creations. "But strangely when I visit theme cafes back in Japan, I find it difficult to eat the food when it's not made by me."

Little Miss Bento can be found on Instagram and Facebook, and her blog with other links to her social media accounts is at littlemissbento.com.

Image copyright umi0407
Image caption Ayumi Kemanai, or "umi0407" is a 47-year-old woman from Tokyo who posts her chigiri-pan creations on Instagram.
Image copyright umi0407
Image caption Like Wong, she has no problem about filling her face with faces. "I sometimes give these to my friends or my parents… It's fun to eat pretty bread."
Image copyright umi0407
Image caption The bread trend has been very popular this year, particularly in Japan, she says." I use cacao powder or vegetable powder for colouring."
Image copyright umi0407
Image caption "I like bread and a baking, I also like Disney characters. So I thought eating bread with pretty shapes would be fun!"

You can see more from Umi0407 on Instagram.

You can follow BBC Trending on Twitter @BBCtrending, and find us on Facebook. All our stories are at bbc.com/trending.

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