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 and the Bento Porn sets at –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.