I just read Kaori Shoji's piece , in The Japan Times, about Japanese food, language, and culture. She always has the most interesting articles connecting the language to the values in Japan.
I guess I was hanging out with "crude circles" in inaka (country) Ibaraki as I always called rice balls, onigiri not omusubi. Oops!
Food in Japan is totally connected to relationships. And often words aren't used when the meals are there to show the sentiment. It is a sad thing when a child or a husband arrives at school or work without a bento.
Early on in my stay in Japan I devised my own "bento-check." If I wanted to discreetly find out if a man was married or not, I'd check to see what he brought for lunch. If it was a bento it almost always meant he was married or seriously attached OR a mama's boy! If he brought bread things (oh the horrors!) or 7-11 snacks, he wasn't happily married or was single.
Now, this was just a fun game for me to pass the time away in the shokuinshitsu and I'm sure that there are exceptions (well, of course!) I just like being nosy.
I do know that one of the biggest compliments a Japanese man gave give you is that your food is umai (or oishii -- for the non-crude bunch)!