HEALTHY EATING FOR CHILDREN, RECIPES FOR PICKY EATERS. KIDS COOKING, MAKING CUTE FACED SANDWICHES AT NEW YORK SCHOOL.February 1, 2010 at 08:32 | Posted in Press, The Book: Cute Yummy Time | 1 Comment
I began my speech by telling the Harlem schoolchildren that I brought a cute friend with me. I pulled her out of a large bag… and they awwed in recognition: “It’s Hello Kitty!”
I talked about kawaii in Japanese culture and character bentos, and gave pointers on healthy eating. The nine-year-olds were very high-energy and asked me rambling questions. Then it was time for the students to try making their own cute-faced sandwiches. They chose ingredients from the spread I had prepped the previous day. By the end of the shoot, almost everything was gone!
The children intuitively understood how to use cookie cutters, straws and other basic tools to make kawaii characters out of food. I went around the tables to help and encourage them.
Amazingly, the children ate vegetables that they’d never seen before — sprouts, green snap peas, red peppers — and said they tasted great. Their parents took away a fun, new approach to making healthy food accessible for kids. I was pleased.
Hana cheered, “Let’s make kawaii character bentos together!” — and we all raised our fists and yelled “Yayyyyy!” Ah, the wonders of Japanese TV.
You will love the episode of New York Wave, which will air next month on NHK (I’ll upload clips). Much thanks to Thomas, a teacher at the school, for his invaluable help in making the lesson possible. Arigato also to Shichi for the photos and help in dishing out the food.
Received my Akumi Ink x La Carmina t-shirts today and AHH the prints are so eye-catching! Each tee and hoodie is hand-screened; you won’t be disappointed by the quality. (They’re available for order at www.akumuink.com — I’ll post photos of me in them soon.)
TEACHING AT HARLEM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: JAPANESE COOKING & BENTO LUNCH BOX MAKING LESSONS. TUTORIALS, TIPS, HOW TO MAKE KAWAII CHARABEN BENTOS.February 1, 2010 at 08:26 | Posted in Press, The Book: Cute Yummy Time | Leave a comment
A 20 minute documentary about cute character bentos requires 20 hours of filming… and 200 hours of preparation!
The New York Wave reporter, Hana, got her army green dress from a boutique in Shibuya 109. My silky dress is handmade — it’s part of the cosplay outfit that I later put on. I own three skull scarves; this one is from a random mall vendor.
I was scheduled to teach sixteen rambunctious 9-year-old students how to make kawaii bentos. We set up the tables with Tupperware boxes, cookie cutters, straws, toothpicks, plastic knives and other tools for making sandwiches with cute faces.
On camera, I interviewed Principal Cesar of the Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars. Her school is one of five housed in a large complex at East 109th and Lexington. It’s crazy: in the course of a few blocks, the neighborhood goes from fancy Chanel to Harlem housing projects.
Tamami helped me clip on my onigiri hat. This and the furry cardigan complete my handmade Phoenix Wright costume; I’m the bento lady Angel Starr. (You may recall I wore this to my LA book signings; more photos here and here.)
To hold the childrens’ attention, I drew cute animals, wrote on the whiteboard and dangled my stuffed Hello Kitty.
Time to hide in the back… the uniformed schoolchildren are about to enter the library! (All photos by Shichi. You can see a slideshow of the Harlem photos in this video-post.)
Thank you to each of you for reading my blog; you make my work possible, and I appreciate your comments and camaraderie. You can also view the posts by RSS and posts in your inbox. I also post updates several times a day on Twitter and try to add everyone back.
I know you’ve been waiting for photos of the Harlem bento-making class… so here’s a slideshow on YouTube! (I’ll post my favorite photos and tell you more about what happened in the next few days — so check back.)
NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster, shot a 20 minute TV documentary about character bentos that focused on my work and recipe book, Cute Yummy Time. In this segment, I taught Harlem students how to make healthy, cute bentos. It was a success — the children loved it and ate vegetables that they’d never tried before! The New York Wave episode about cute bento boxes will air this February on NHK; Ill be sure to let you know the exact time and put up segments on YouTube (please subscribe so you wont miss out).
My cat Basil Farrow is featured as a character in my cute cookbook, inspired by Japanese bento decoration. If you want to get in on the charaben action, please consider my recipe book, Cute Yummy Time. (Now in major bookstores and available online.)
JAPANESE FOOD & BENTO BOX ART, COOKING CUTE FOOD FOR NHK NEW YORK WAVE TV SHOW ABOUT KAWAII LUNCH BENTOS.February 1, 2010 at 08:20 | Posted in Press, The Book: Cute Yummy Time | Leave a comment
Day 3 of the NHK Japan TV shoot. Regi came to NYC to witness the cute cookery. We both happened to be wearing black and our favorite shade of blue. She refers to it as hyper-active or BAM turquoise; I call it 0099CC (since that’s its hex color for CSS and Photoshop).
My long-sleeve top with a face on it: Etnies, an action apparel brand. Random, eh? This TV segment called for “casual clothes” so I had to do my best!
Skull scarf worn as a skirt: A mall vending cart. Casual, cheap and random: check.
Black leggings: Mall vending cart again.
Blue fishnets worn on forearms: Socks from Barcelona that I wear on my arms.
Cute penguin bands worn below knees: These are actually bento box straps from Daiso, the Japanese dollar store. I’d say the overarching theme of this outfit is… random?
Just like in Food Network competitions, I had to prep a large amount of food for the next day. Believe it or not, I was going to Harlem to teach nine-year-olds how to make cute bentos! Wait til you see the photos…
Since we’re in random mode today, I thought I’d go off on some thought tangents. Digital cameras versus film: this and the previous photo are from a vintage camera Shichi bought, and the difference is perceptible. I’m determined to tinker further with toy cameras — I think the results are worth the price of processing.
And I like Regi’s armbands. Practical and stylish. They add a Goth element and work with a variety of short-sleeved tops.
Top-hatted Shichi took all the photos in this post (except the one he’s in, of course). People often ask if my hair is the result of extensions. Nope, it’s all me. For this style, I tied small bundles with black elastics to fluff up the natural volume.
There was a major kitchen clean-up after the cameras left. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a clean freak are you? I’m probably around a 9…
Two random recommendations. Patti Smith’s new book, Just Kids, is impossible to put to down. It’s a memoir of her adventures with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe; 1960s NYC bohemia is a time that has always fascinated me. Pick up a copy and share it with your partners in crime.
Second, if you’re in New York City, go to Kenka. The Japanese word means fighting…
… and it’s the name of a much-loved Japanese izakaya (bar-style restaurant) on St Mark’s Place. There’s always a lineup outside, so try to come at 6pm when the doors open. If you put down your name, don’t go away — the man in the turban skips over absentees!
Don’t order the soggy gyoza, but do get a bottle of sake and yuzu shochu. Gather a group of friends and sample the takoyaki, unagi (eel), grilled mackerel, cod roe onigiri (rice balls), miso tofu, egg and mushroom rice, okonomiyaki, yakitori… so so yummy. At the end, you get a little cup of magic to pour into the cotton candy machine outside. Then you grab a stick and swirl it around and… FAIL. (A Kanae manga for your amusement!)
CUTE YUMMY TIME AUTHOR LA CARMINA ON NHK JAPAN TV SHOW. CHARACTER BENTOS, KAWAII HELLO KITTY PLUSH TOY.February 1, 2010 at 08:15 | Posted in Press, The Book: Cute Yummy Time | Leave a comment
Ah, the scratch-your-head experience of being on Japanese TV! Here’s day two of behind-the-scenes photos from my NHK Japan filming (courtesy of Shichi). I call this my “genki outfit”; think energetic, fun, bright:
Cobweb sweater top: Black Peace Now, from Closet Child. (It comes with trailing sleeves, not worn.)
Ganesh elephant god top: Vivienne Tam. Bought it almost 10 years ago in Hong Kong.
Punk plaid skirt with furry dangles and detachable leg covers: Peace Now, from Closet Child. (Such a unique piece.)
Hair: tied up in two loose, messy bundles. The TV director marveled: “How very spiky!”
The cameras filmed me doing what I do: chilling with Hello Kitty, reading Japanese bento books, blogging and writing all day. Let’s play Where’s Waldo! Can you spot…
† The blue feather I wore at the Halloween Vampire Masquerade ball?
† The gift that came with Blablahospital’s Xmas card?
† The dead kitty scarf I wore to Christon Cafe Shibuya?
† Part of my Phoenix Wright bento lady cosplay outfit?
The director interviewed me about my work. I don’t mind cameras in my face; I’ve had a lot of practice on my YouTube.
After, I Gothed up my lips for a fashion segment. Black lipstick from Lime Crime and a dab of dark blue from Make Up For Ever.
Fuzzy black beret with sparkles: Nile Perch, from Laforet Harajuku.
Silver and black crucifix ring: What’s your guess? Guess again? (Oh that never gets old!)
Crystal and black leather cuff: Yohji Yamamoto (one of my favorite pieces ever, from a Shibuya vintage store)
Spiky ankle boots: Tripp NYC, from Trash and Vaudeville in NYC
Here’s a closeup of one of my favorite eye makeup techniques. First, put on loads of black eyeliner (I use Urban Decay). I swept Aromaleigh Sonic Rocks in a teal shade over the edges, added blue glitter from Too Faced to the inside of my eyelids, and finished with Japanese dollar store stickers.
In one of those classic “montage” segments, I modeled the coats from my previous collection. Can’t wait for the first printing of the Akumu Ink collaboration t-shirts, now available for order here (and more info here – thanks for your enthusiasm!).
You’ll see how the TV shoot turned out in early February when it airs on NHK (and I’ll put up video clips on my YouTube.) Please keep in touch: I added Google Friend Connect and Facebook Fan boxes to the right sidebar. You can also receive special announcements via my Twitter and mailing list; please subscribe by entering your email in the top right box on the sidebar.