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NATIONAL POST INTERVIEW WITH LA CARMINA: CUTE YUMMY TIME, JAPANESE BENTO DECORATION TREND.

Cute Yummy Time article on Japanese bento decoration trend in National Post newspaper, Canada. La Carmina interview, photos of decorated hardboiled eggs.

Woo-hoo! La Carmina is interviewed in today’s National Post, Canada’s nation-wide daily newspaper. I discuss the Japanese cute bento decoration trend and my upcoming cookbook, Cute Yummy Time. (Coming out November 2009 from Perigee/Penguin Books.) Above is a scan, which includes a sneak peak of the images you’ll see in my book!

You can read the cute food article below or on The National Post’s website. Click here for more about my upcoming recipe book, and don’t forget to check out my latest how-to cooking videos. Can’t wait to share more from my upcoming books with you!

Aw, I just can’t wait to bite that itty-bitty head off!
Cute Food
Vanessa Farquharson, Weekend Post
Published: Saturday, February 07, 2009

If you thought smearing some peanut butter on a celery stick and throwing a few raisins on top to create “ants on a log” was endearing, think again.

The trend of cooking cute has officially taken off and some are taking it very seriously. Heart-shaped boiled eggs with smiley faces made from seaweed and carrots, walruses formed out of sticky rice and caterpillars crafted from avocado and tomato wedges are just some examples of the adorable edibles making their way into lunch boxes.

While mostly inspired by the labour-intensive craft of bento box assembly — which started in Japan but is now popular online, as shown on blogs such as E-Obento.com and the Bento Porn sets at Flickr.com –cute food preparation can be applied to any meal at any time of day.

“Your mind goes to very strange places,” says La Carmina, a Vancouver-based author who just landed a deal with Penguin and Perigee to write Cute Yummy Time, set to hit shelves this fall. In it, she explains the origins of this trend and provides recipes and instructions for easy-to-make dishes that are almost too adorable to consume.

“Instead of seeing strawberries as a sweet, nutritious addition to a dessert, you think to yourself, ‘Can this be an ear? Could this be an eye?’ ” she says.

La Carmina–a writer, blogger and fashion designer — already has one book under her belt, The Cosmos in a Carrot, a Zen guide to nutrition that she wrote at the age of 19.

“I’m the kind of person who will write a script just to see what that process is like,” she says. Indeed, she’s taken a hands-on approach to Cute Yummy Time, not only conducting her own research but writing all the recipes, cooking the food, photographing it and even sketching illustrations for the margins.

Although inspired by the Japanese bento style, La Carmina’s recipes will be geared to North American audiences.

“For my dishes, the techniques will be typically bento, but instead of seaweed and rice there’ll be pita wraps, quiche and pizza. It’s important for me to create food that’s appetizing and edible because some of the more complicated designs you see are like art, but you don’t want to sink your teeth into them.”

She notes that while there are already about 10 or 12 titles in Japan focused entirely on making cute food — whether they be books or mooks (magazine-type books)– there aren’t many available in the West.

“I think the Japanese have generally been more interested in these things and now they just have a greater tolerance for cute,” La Carmina says. “If you go to Tokyo, you’ll see businessmen in suits carrying around little Pokemons on their briefcases.”

Aside from its East-meets-West appeal, though, Cute Yummy Time is poised to do well for a couple of other reasons: One, with the economy in such rough shape, more people will be looking to create meals from scratch as a way to cut back on spending; and two, making a sandwich look cuter means it’s more likely to be eaten by the pickiest kid.

“Also,” La Carmina adds, “I think younger adults are starting to have a greater awareness of nutrition, eating vegan or local food, and cooking cute lets you make your own stuff while making it more interesting.”

Photo caption: Courtesy Cute Yummy Time. Those eggs won’t be smiling once you’re done with them.

SHARE & COMMENT

  • Lizzie Go Lightly

    Congratulations!

  • Eric B

    awesome! making me hungry!

  • karmaneko

    I'm so excited for this book to come out!
    I followed your tutorial on how to make elephant pancakes…I had an epic failure, but it was still fun. :D

    I'm so buying this book the day it comes out. Congrats on the publishing! It'll be a yummie book to wait for.

  • A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E-!

  • Congrats!

  • Lizzie Go Lightly

    Congratulations!

  • Lizzie Go Lightly

    Congratulations!

  • Eric B

    awesome! making me hungry!

    • Melissa

      making me HUNGRY too!

    • Melissa

      making me HUNGRY too!

  • Eric B

    awesome! making me hungry!

  • Dani

    CUTE!

  • Dani

    CUTE!

  • shinigami

    i cant wait to tackle one of ur recipies^-^
    i don't normally like cooking but this seems awfully amusing

  • Naka

    sigh pokemon how i long to see that again >.<

    i can't wait to buy your book ^^

  • Dragonswyng

    wtg! ^-^ zomg the photos are amazing. are these some of the ones you did yourself?

  • Yay! It's a lot of fun and not difficult at all. Thanks for the support!

  • :D :D

  • Yup! These are from two of the recipes I made for Cute Yummy Time.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so excited for this book to come out!
    I followed your tutorial on how to make elephant pancakes…I had an epic failure, but it was still fun. :D

    I’m so buying this book the day it comes out. Congrats on the publishing! It’ll be a yummie book to wait for.

  • Anonymous

    I’m so excited for this book to come out!
    I followed your tutorial on how to make elephant pancakes…I had an epic failure, but it was still fun. :D

    I’m so buying this book the day it comes out. Congrats on the publishing! It’ll be a yummie book to wait for.

  • A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E-!

  • A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E-!

  • shuey

    so cute! cant wait to get it, i have these cute little boxes that have a clear top, now i can show off cute foods!

  • Sweet!

  • Shay Undead

    I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read your book!! :3 Im gonna bring yummy treats to everyone at my school And Im deffy gonna save the book for when I have children <333

  • Thank you SO much for your encouragement! <3

  • Congrats!

  • Congrats!

  • shinigami

    i cant wait to tackle one of ur recipies^-^
    i don’t normally like cooking but this seems awfully amusing

    • Yay! It’s a lot of fun and not difficult at all. Thanks for the support!

  • shinigami

    i cant wait to tackle one of ur recipies^-^
    i don’t normally like cooking but this seems awfully amusing

  • Naka

    sigh pokemon how i long to see that again >.<

    i can't wait to buy your book ^^

  • Naka

    sigh pokemon how i long to see that again >.<

    i can't wait to buy your book ^^

  • Dragonswyng

    wtg! ^-^ zomg the photos are amazing. are these some of the ones you did yourself?

    • Yup! These are from two of the recipes I made for Cute Yummy Time.

  • Dragonswyng

    wtg! ^-^ zomg the photos are amazing. are these some of the ones you did yourself?

  • shuey

    so cute! cant wait to get it, i have these cute little boxes that have a clear top, now i can show off cute foods!

  • Shay Undead

    I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read your book!! :3 Im gonna bring yummy treats to everyone at my school And Im deffy gonna save the book for when I have children <333

    • Thank you SO much for your encouragement! <3

  • My not necessarily correct thought: The fact that you sense of “cute” is much closer to what the Japanese do than that shown in most pictures of “cute bentos” by “Westerners” on Flickr while using food that is ordinary N. American fare reflects your cultural heritage a lot.

    And the fact that you wrote “The Cosmos in a Carrot” at freaking (sorry, can't help want to use that word) 19 just floors me.

    Congrats. :)

  • Thanks :)

    I grew up drawing Sanrio-type characters, so it was always second nature. I took care, when doing this book, to be true to the Japanese bento process and aesthetics… such as by using healthy, natural ingredients. No food coloring or candy in here. Hopefully it comes across :)

  • Um, I wasn't aware that the Japanese cute bentos should only use healthy, natural ingredients until I read your reply… ^^” Aside from the food coloring thing, the main difference I find in your work and those by other Westerners on Flickr is the approach.

    The “Western” cute bento by Westerners tends to start from a complete pictorial design; the creator has an image of what funky thing s/he wants to display and then proceeds to bend whatever food stuff to make that scene happen. The end result often looks quite unsettling, considering it's supposed to be ingested, and it rarely looks tastey.

    Your approach, and that of the Japanese, is to use food as decorative elements. They may come together and form a cute image, but that's not the goal, and the image never depicts any theme or activity and just conveys a general sense of cuteness.

    I find someone born and raised in Canada would grow up drawing Sanrio-type characters very interesting, since most Canadians don't. How did access to that culture come into your life?

  • I've been visiting relatives in Hong Kong and making trips to Tokyo every 1-2 years… since I was a year old!

    Also, Vancouver has a high Asian population and many stores that sell character goods, books, and such. :D

  • No wonder. :)

    I'm aware that there are such specialty stores where E. Asians congregate (I studied in Toronto) but not every Asian Canadian is happy to be associated with these things…(image porblem, I guess?) Knowing that your father is an architect, I didn't rule out that possibility. Hence the question. :)

  • nign

    My not necessarily correct thought: The fact that you sense of “cute” is much closer to what the Japanese do than that shown in most pictures of “cute bentos” by “Westerners” on Flickr while using food that is ordinary N. American fare reflects your cultural heritage a lot.

    And the fact that you wrote “The Cosmos in a Carrot” at freaking (sorry, can’t help wanting to use that word) 19 just floors me.

    Congrats. :)

    • Thanks :)

      I grew up drawing Sanrio-type characters, so it was always second nature. I took care, when doing this book, to be true to the Japanese bento process and aesthetics… such as by using healthy, natural ingredients. No food coloring or candy in here. Hopefully it comes across :)

      • nign

        Um, I wasn’t aware that the Japanese cute bentos should only use healthy, natural ingredients until I read your reply… ^^” I think your version is actually healthier than the Japanese “original”, since they use a lot of fried food.

        Aside from the food coloring thing, the main difference I find in your work and those by other Westerners on Flickr is the approach:

        The “Western” cute bento by Westerners tends to start from a complete pictorial design; the creator has an image of what funky thing s/he wants to display and then proceeds to bend whatever foodstuff to make that scene happen. The end result often looks quite unsettling, considering it’s supposed to be ingested, and it rarely looks tasty.

        Your approach, and that of the Japanese, is to use food as decorative elements. They may come together and form a cute image, but that’s not the goal, and the image never depicts any theme or activity and just conveys a general sense of cuteness.

        I find someone born and raised in Canada would grow up drawing Sanrio-type characters very interesting, since most Canadians don’t. How did access to that culture come into your life?

        • I’ve been visiting relatives in Hong Kong and making trips to Tokyo every 1-2 years… since I was a year old!

          Also, Vancouver has a high Asian population and many stores that sell character goods, books, and such. :D

          • nign

            No wonder. :)

            I’m aware that there are such specialty stores where E. Asians congregate (I studied in Toronto) but not every Asian Canadian is happy to be associated with these things…(image porblem, I guess?) Knowing that your father is an architect, I didn’t rule out that possibility. Hence the question. :)

  • Lollipop Lolita Fashions

    I'm soooo excited for your book! I went to your video section hoping to see something new, but I've already seen all of your videos :( I can't wait, I'm super happy for you sweetie, you're doing such a great job.

  • Thanks, hon! I'm planning on putting up some new videos soon!

  • Lollipop Lolita Fashions

    I’m soooo excited for your book! I went to your video section hoping to see something new, but I’ve already seen all of your videos :( I can’t wait, I’m super happy for you sweetie, you’re doing such a great job.

    • Thanks, hon! I’m planning on putting up some new videos soon!

  • Kawaii-chan

    YAY! Good for yooooou! *claps* I'm hungry now… P.S- I just LOOOVE your clothes!

  • Kawaii-chan

    Oh, and another thing. Do you think an american, I mean… one that doesn't have ANY asian looks at all (not to be a racist or anything but they seem to look better with the lolita fashions), would make a good Lolita?

  • Kawaii-chan

    YAY! Good for yooooou! *claps* I’m hungry now… P.S- I just LOOOVE your clothes!

  • Kawaii-chan

    Oh, and another thing. Do you think an american, I mean… one that doesn’t have ANY asian looks at all (not to be a racist or anything but they seem to look better with the lolita fashions), would make a good Lolita?

  • Kawaii-chan

    YAY! Good for yooooou! *claps* I'm hungry now… P.S- I just LOOOVE your clothes!

  • Kawaii-chan

    Oh, and another thing. Do you think an american, I mean… one that doesn't have ANY asian looks at all (not to be a racist or anything but they seem to look better with the lolita fashions), would make a good Lolita?