My first encounter with Fumiko Imano came thanks to a piece by Amelia Groom on Tokyo Art Beat.
As much as the fact that she was a photographer, I liked her playfulness, the fact that she designed some of her clothes (punk as in DIY) and her well traveled life from Brazil to Japan to Paris and London.
After sharing my thoughts on her adventurous path, I asked her if she would be game for an interview around life and food.
We both found time to make it happen in the past week.
Here are the results.
Q: You grew up in Brazil and Japan and lived in London, Tokyo and Paris. Is there an ingredient or a dish whose flavors remind you of a special person, a moment, a memory associated with each place?
A: Yes of course. memory of my tongue, eyes and feeling. To eat is to use 5 senses.
In Brazil, our family went to Churrascaria restaurant called "Porcon" (big pig
spell?) a lot.
Brazilian baguette and cafe latte for breakfast at Coroa Grande's Japanese farmer's house was really good memory.
When we went to Pantanal , we had piranha soup at restaurant but too many insects flew around, falling in, and Icouldn' t eat much of it.
The most memorable lunch was eating alone in canteen of Itanhanga golf club some weekends while my parents were playing golf. It was typically a plate with steak, spaghetti, mashed potatoes and rice. I also had Coxinha(chicken crocket) and Kibe (fried meat balls) and then strawbery milkshake.
Time in Brazil time was about food and family and my mum's worried face saying "dont eat too much!"
When living in dormitory in London, I had Marmite
toast with butter and boiled egg.
Each night we had a huge meal served in one dish.
Some people found that disgusting but i liked it. I especially liked boiled green peas also mashed potatoes and Chicken Kiev (Cordon Bleu in France).
Once in a while I visited Chinatown to eat pork rice with ginger sauce with friends.
I had so many cups of tea with friends to talk talk talk! I became teaholic in England.
is city of Bobun!
Of course, i like Steak Tartar with french fries or Confit de Canard but Bobun was my favorite.
Thai take out place in Rue Lepic was great.
Once, I went to Le Cambodge with a friend and we had amazingly good Bobun!
Sauce tasted like gyu-don (japanese beef rice bowl)
As for me, I made a lot of tomato & lardon pasta and Maki sushi for friends I used to live
They made great dishes too!
I had strong coffee with friends in Cafes, dinner at friends' house or they took me to nice places.
Paris is the place for very very special moments. Somehow the air is different.
Q: After Brazil, moving to Japan you lived in Hitachi correct? Did you eat out with your family? Are there dishes the place is known for?
A: There was a great place where to eat pilaf with crab on the top. It took time
to get the meat out from the shell but it was delicious!
Sadly, it closed down... the building and interior had a fake and tacky European look, and music was Saint-Saëns kind of music....funny place.
Hitachi is in the countryside and so many shops and restaurant have closed down now.
Fish is fresh here! Anko (toad fish) hot pot is famous around this area.
It has a very rich flavor as we put the whole fish in it.
Also,my parents' Soba noodle restaurant during the summer is a really good place!
Q: Since you did that Pizza Twins picture, are you fond of Pizza? What's your favorite type? Where did you have the best Pizza ever?
A: I' m not a big fan of Pizza but i like it. I like good Italian type and American type.
Once i had mid size salami Domino pizza each and coca cola with my friend in Paris. It was fun!
The most memorable Pizza I had was in Denmark in 1982 when we traveled back via Europe from
Brazil to Japan.
It was november so the Tivoli Gardens were closed. We went to a Pizza place in front of it and ordered folded pizza. It was a big Calzone! I cannot forget it because it was the first time I saw one.
It was good pizza but i don't remember the taste, the look more than the taste.
A: Not always but quite often is false cause I'm not a creature of habit.
I just follow my nature when I enjoy making it.
I used to bake with normal dry east but Ididn't like the smell of yeast much. It has a stronger smell but is easier to use than natural yeast.
Well, we only get basic Japanese bread here in suburb so I end up eating hard bread sometimes.
Q: Are there any foods that you stay away from?
A: Basically, I eat anything. from "junk" food to "luxe" food.
Q: Do you try different types of cuisines, experiment with things as you do with your pictures and in creating your clothes?
A: Yes. I do experiment a lot and it can end up tasting funny.
I think good food is simple fare and not overcooked with too many ideas, same goes for art work.
Q: Your favorite places to shop for food?
A: In London, I used to love Waitrose. I went to Borough Market once and it was fun!
Paris markets are nice. I like Monoprix and Picard (frozen food).
Tokyo? Seijyo Ishii for imported food and OK Store as cheap super market.
Q: Right now, what would your favorite meal be?
A: Gyoza (Japanese dumplings ) and rice.
Q: What do you like to cook best?
A: Pasta with tomato sauce!
Q: If you could pick 3 guests (famous, unknowns or in-between) for
dinner who would they be?
A: Leo(dog in heaven), Alex(dog in heaven), Koo(he is here with us!). I want to cook huge steak for them! They love to eat but we control what we give them. They deserve a better meal!
Q: You were close to fashion circles, are there common elements between
fashion and food?
A: Fashion needs food! Food needs fashion!
When we eat, we dress ourselves. We wear clothes and eat everyday.
Q: Best food to have in bed?
A: I never eat in my bed. If I had a chance, I would enjoy a huge breakfast.
Q: Secret food that helps you keep youthful looks?
A: This is a funny question. I don't think about it but maybe green tea. I eat whatever i like? It helps me keep my chubby look!
Q: Having spent a number of years in Europe, are wine and cheese an essential part of your meals?
A: Not essential but I like to have it sometime.
When i was in London, I found French red wine made in 1995 price 2.99 pound.
It was really good. had rich taste. I don't know....
My taste is really bad sometimes though. ;)
If you ask my favorite , I like light and fruity wine like those from Alsace.
I love cheese! Comte and goat cheese are my favorite.
Q: Either eating out or cooking at home, do you take snapshots of the dishes?
A: I used to snap shot anything when I was more experimental and younger
but not anymore... Capturing them with my eyes is enough.
It is bad because you can become a believer of what the camera takes, and fail to experiencing real raw time!
World is becoming more like that because of mobile cameras!
I' m not against it but it is better to just enjoy time than recording it.
Feel free to add whatever matters to you regarding food that I did not touch upon?
A: I add a bit of salt, sugar, and pepper to finish it!
Thank you Fumiko!
All photographs used in this piece are copyright Fumiko Imano
That's it for this new round of the Wednesday Interview