Funny Food by Bill Wurtzel


12 Critic Reviews

What I love most about this book is the way the Wurtzels help kids eat healthier and make food appealing at the same time.
-PBS Parents


They’re easy. They’re silly. They’re healthy. They’re clever. They’re artistic. They’re delicious. They’re fun. They’re a great way to start the day. One breakfast at a time, Bill and Claire Wurtzel are determined to make you laugh and eat and play and laugh some more. Riffing over the years with oatmeal, eggs, apples, and nuts, it is finally ours to share…Funny Food!
Not since Joost Elffers’ Play With Your Food has food been so ridiculous and so endlessly diverting. Parents and children will giggle through breakfast. Teachers and students can laugh some more making snacks or desserts after lunch. This is a book filled with nothing but engaging spontaneity and simplicity that makes you say, “I can do that.” And, you can...the consequences are yummy.
Really, who doesn’t like to play with food? Bill Wurtzel, a jazz guitarist, has been making these plates for his wife, Claire, for as many years as they’ve been married. Now they are turning a hobby into an art form with a social message. Their goal is to discourage obesity by inspiring children—and adults—to improve their eating habits by creating meals and snacks that are not only nutritious, but fun.
These are not your mother’s smiley-face sandwiches. In Bill’s world, carrots turn into airplanes; boiled eggs into jugglers, and pears into guitar players. As gracefully as Picasso’s ceramic plates found endless form so do Wurtzel’s portraits, which seem to grow out of almost anything—cheerios and bananas; lox and bagels; oatmeal, blueberries, and strawberries. Sometimes you think he is portrait artist and you could swear you just saw Sigmund Freud emerging from a pear or Shakespeare growing out of an apple. Sometimes the plates are just plain fanciful. “Your breakfasts don’t have to look like they’ll hang in the Louvre,” he says. “It’s the gesture that counts.” But it sure looks like he riffed on Matisse’s paper cutout dancers with a papaya.
In addition to creating Funny Food - which contains both recipes and how-to photographs - Bill and Claire have been conducting workshops for children at Public School 188 on the Lower East Side of New York, teaching them to use their imaginations to improve their health “rather than just putting lettuce and vegetables on their trays.”

About Bill Wurtzel

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For decades, Bill Wurtzel worked in advertising by day and moonlighted as a guitarist in big bands. In 1989, he retired from advertising and turned to music full time. Now 73, he plays with the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, performing on the Upper West Side and the American Folk Art Museum, among other places. Mr. Wurtzel is a founding director of the Jazz Foundation of America, which helps jazz and blues musicians in need. Claire Wurtzel has been an educator for 40 years. Her focus is on supporting teachers who work with students struggling with learning and /or behavior difficulties. Claire was on the faculty of Bank Street Graduate School for 17 years, where she taught courses and chaired the Department of Special Education. She works with teachers, administrators, families, psychologists, librarians, and museum educators both nationally and internationally. Claire and Bill Wurtzel were married in 1961, have 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren, and live in New York City.
Published March 27, 2012 by Welcome Books. 192 pages
Genres: Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Cooking, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Funny Food
All: 12 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 3

City Book Review

Below average
Reviewed by George Erdosh on Apr 30 2012

You don’t have to be an artist to create most of the 365 breakfast ideas, but it helps to have some artistic inclinations.

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NY Daily News

Reviewed by Alison Maney on Apr 15 2012

Attention-grabbing letters relay simple information about the health benefits of certain ingredients (did you know basil is a natural anti-inflammatory?) while making facts understandable and interesting to kids and grownups alike.

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Splash Magazine

Reviewed by Corrine Oaks

Their book speaks to me as a mother who wants her child to love food and, at the same time, understand the importance of eating healthy food.

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Aspen Daily News Online

Reviewed by Amiee Beazley on Mar 23 2012

Riffing with oatmeal, eggs, apples, and nuts, the adorable, hilarious and healthy plates inspire good eating habits by creating an interactive food experience for children.

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Reviewed by Jenn Garbee on Mar 07 2012

But what we love is this is truly a cookbook, not just a sensationalized photo gallery as similar books tend to be.

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PBS Parents

Reviewed by Alice Currah on Mar 19 2012

What I love most about this book is the way the Wurtzels help kids eat healthier and make food appealing at the same time.

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Below average
Reviewed by Lexi Petronis on Apr 02 2012

So while these recipes aren't the most practical for a hurried Monday morning, I'm hoping they'll at least make you smile...

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The Village Voice

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Sietsema on Feb 02 2012

Their idea is to use fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to make lively plate-sculptures of animals, faces, and choo-choo trains, inducing kids to eat what we want them to. For me, the stuff is just great art.

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The Nibble

Mar 27 2012

Everything is nutritious and the designs turn old standbys into exciting food.

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Reviewed by Julie Rossant on Mar 01 2012

Is this a book for the under-eight set? Perhaps, but older kids and adults will share the fun.

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Eat It: The Brooklyn Food Blog

Apr 02 2012

But this is not your average 'play with your food' book, they take making pictures with your food to a whole new level.

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Below average
Reviewed by Cheryl Collet on Mar 27 2012

The downside is that the prep is a little finicky but it’s vital before starting.

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Tara Leigh

Tara Leigh 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list