Funny Food: 300 Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts
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.”
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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.