Waku Waku it's La Carmina!

Friday, July 09, 2010 3 Comments A+ a-

The word Kawaii, meaning cute became prominent in Japan in the 1970's brought upon by Japanese childlike fashion and Hello Kitty. Now Kawaii has spread into every aspect of living- including food! I was so Waku (excited) to get an exclusive interview with Cute Yummy Time author La Carmina and chat with her about all things Kawaii.

La Carmina describes herself as an 'undead Queen Victoria, crossed with Hello Kitty, and mother to the world's kawaii Scottish fold cat; Basil Farrow...who even has his own blog
La Carmina is also the author of three books on J-pop culture and food, Cute Yummy Time, Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo and The Cosmos in a Carrot. She also runs her own clothing line inspired by Tim Burton and Marie Antoinette, and blogs obsessively about Harajuku street style, goth fashion, Japan subcultures and her daily photos and adventures. La Carmina has even hosted segments on The Today Show (US), CNN and Bizarre foods with Andrew Zimmern for the Travel Channel....is there anything that La Carmina doesn't do???

Jenna: Tell us about your books
La Carmina: Cute Yummy Time: 70 recipes for the cutest food you'll ever eat (Perigee/Penguin USA) is a “kawaii” (think Hello Kitty) cookbook based on the Japanese trend of decorating bento boxes to look like cute characters. Using familiar and nutritious ingredients, I show you how to easily turn even the most mundane meal into a squeal-worthy sensation: pancakes become adorable koalas, grilled cheese sandwiches become hippos, and lemon tarts look like puppies.
As well as the writing, La Carmina does all the designs and cool illustrations in her books!

Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo (Mark Batty/Random House). Theme restaurants are big in Japan, and no experience is complete without monster attacks, sneaky ninja waiters, or French maids that offer to clean your ears. In this book I takes you on a tour of Tokyo’s most outrageous dining establishments, with jaw-dropping photos of the costumes and interiors. My adventures include a haunted jail, Dracula’s lair, Wonderland, Little Hong Kong, and cafes where women are served by waiters dressed as schoolboys.

Jenna: Your fave Kawaii things?
La Carmina: I have a collection of cute animal rings, such as panda and teddy bear faces. I write to friends on kawaii stationery, and sometimes wear Japanese stuffed toys like Miffy with my outfits. But to me, the King of Kawaii is my fat yellow earless kitty, Basil Farrow!

Jenna: What Japan restaurants and cafes can we go to that sells Kawaii decoration food?
La Carmina: The Alice in Wonderland cafĂ© has Cheshire Cat ice cream sundaes and sushi decorated like a caterpillar. Maid cafes will draw adorable creatures on your omelette-rice using ketchup, or they’ll brew a latte with a kitty-face on it.

Jenna: Living in Australia (even other countries) it's hard to find sandwich cutters, bento decorations and other Kawaii treat making equipment (like the ones featured in your book). What are some great places or websites we can visit, to make our own Yummy Time food? I noticed you sell some great kawaii equipment on your own bento store!
La Carmina: Absolutely! You can find heaps of Kawaii inspired bento and food accessories like; sushi, ice-cream and sandwich stamp molds in various shapes and characters via my own personal bento store. I also sell other Kawaii products like an Hello Kitty toaster (toasts a Hello Kitty face on your bread!), J-pop character bento boxes, aprons and lots more including my books of course! However, there’s no need to have any special equipment in order to make kawaii food. In my book Cute Yummy Time I demonstrate how you can use anything from a cup rim to the end of a straw to cut out and combine shapes - so get creative!

Jenna: Have you been to Australia before?
La Carmina: I haven’t… I’d love to visit one day. I have some friends in Australia, and it’s not far from Japan.

Jenna: Fave places to shop in Japan?
La Carmina: I spend most of my wardrobe budget at Closet Child, the secondhand store that stocks brand-name Gothic Lolita Punk clothing (such as Moi-meme-Moitie, Baby the Stars Shine Bright, Alice and the Pirates and more). There are store locations are in Ikebukuro, Harajuku and Shinjuku. La Carmina also has her own Tim Burton inspired fashion line that includes T-Shirts and hoodies. Which has her own illustrated pictures of herself and her cat Basil Farrow on them!

Jenna: What new projects are you working on at the moment?
La Carmina: I’m excited about upcoming TV projects… I’m also currently writing for CNNGo.com (an Asia travel/lifestyle website), blogging daily, writing a column for Lip Service Webzine, and working on other things that I can’t announce yet!

Jenna: What inspires you?
La Carmina: My friends are so creative and daring -- they inspire me to reach for the same heights. And I love my blog readers for sending me messages and links… often, I discover something inspiring through them.

Jenna: I’m a big cat lover/ owner myself and I just read on your blog that your cat Basil Farrow was on a TV Show! How did that come about? He seems to be a celebrity himself!
La Carmina: Basil Farrow grew up in a movie star family: Mia Farrow is his grandma, and Ronan Farrow is his dad! Now he lives with his mom (me), and I often put up videos of Basil’s cute antics on our YouTube channel. They got a lot of views, and Discovery Channel took notice... A producer for Animal Planet/Discovery’s “Cats 101” TV show contacted us. Basil Farrow will be in the “Fat Cats” episode, airing this fall or early next year!

Jenna: One of the things I loved about Japan are their cat cafes! For those who have not travelled to Japan, What can we find in a Cat Cafe?
La Carmina: You’ll always find a Scottish Fold (fold-eared cat) in Japanese cat cafes. They’re very popular for obvious cuteness reasons! Many residents can’t keep pets at home, so they come to these cafes to pet and play with dozens of cats… and have a drink or snack at the same time. It’s the one place where you can’t complain about finding cat hairs in your food!

For more about La Carmina’s cute cooking and fashion adventures, check out her blog below. Note: all images and illustrations are from La Carmina's official website/blog. Header picture layout arrangement by My Life as a Magazine.

                                            La Carmina Gothic Lolita Punk blog. Harajuku Japan fashion.


Write comments
July 9, 2010 at 10:52 AM delete

Thank you so much for the interview! I love the colorful layout and how you incorporated photos. Keep in touch! ^__^

July 11, 2010 at 3:51 PM delete

Hey Jenna!! I'm a La Carmina reader and from Sydney! Just wanted to say that Maruyu in the city is great for bento making stuff - shapers, cutters, moulds, bento boxes etc. It's at 283-285 Clarence St, Sydney.

Apparently Tokyo Mart in Northbridge is pretty big and may have bento making gear too :)

July 12, 2010 at 9:32 AM delete

Thanks Fashionate Traveller for your wonderful comment and letting me know (and readers) some great places to buy bento making stuff...looks like I'm off to Sydney now! Love your blog too! So many great posts on Japan and Fashion :)