Food & Drink

Cookbook offers broader understanding of the ‘life’ of food

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

The back cover of this lovely little book calls it “A Palette for your Palate”. Rightly so. Julia Rothman has illustrated four (cook) books for others and now she gives us her own take, written and with drawings, on the world of food. If you are a visual learner then this is the book you want. Rothman delves into the history, origins, types, traditions, cooking tools and techniques behind our most popular foods and preparations, with charming sets of colored drawings. With assistance (just a little, the cover claims) from food writer, Rachel Wharton, a James Beard Foundation award-winning journalist, Rothman diagrams the world of edibles. Rothman’s skills have made her an acclaimed illustrator with the New York Times, cookbooks and her own lines of stationery and dishware among her many credits.

Rothman turns even ordinary topics into delightful reading. This is a book may want to keep by your family room chair, not necessarily shelve in the kitchen. Her primer on short order egg language will bring smiles to a gray day. (e.g. Fry two, let the sun shine!) In a similar vein she describes many of the different kinds of coffee one can order at a shop and also draws the various machines that allows us you to produce those creations in our own kitchens.

Her guide to chicken parts provides an incentive to saving money by purchasing a whole chicken and cutting it up at home. She provides the same wonderful drawings for beef pork and lamb, but in the case of those larger animals more as a guide to inform us where on the animal our “cut” came from, since few of us will actually be butchering one of these.

Her guide to pasta shapes is also fun and I loved her illustration of cheese making, a kitchen task I have been thinking about performing but have never tried. Her drawings make the techniques appear much more accessible! and one that any foodie will enjoy as a gift. For the part on eggs alone it deserves consideration as an Easter basket add –on. If you want to make homemade candy or other sugary dessert with your sweeties this Valentine’s Day, then this book will help with its hand drawn introduction to the art of making candies.

Unfortunately the book reproduces recipes in a “handwriting” font instead of simple, clean print, which makes them a bit harder to read. Also the organization is a bit eclectic (for my taste). That said, this little volume is not about recipes. It’s about giving us a broader understanding of the “life” of the foods and appliances that feed us.

At A Glance

Title | Food Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Our Edible World

Author | Julia Rothman

Publisher | Storey Publishing

Cost | $16.95

Jane’s Noodle Pudding (Jane is Rothman’s Mom)

Reprinted with permission of Storey Publishing from Food Anatomy by Julia Rothman


10-12 oz broad egg noodles

1 stick sweet (unsalted) butter

1 pound of pot cheese of farmer cheese

16 oz sour cream

8-10 eggs

¾ cup sugar

Ground cinnamon to taste


Boil the noodles until they are al dente, the shortest time on the instructions;

While the noodles boil, beat the eggs well with a whisk in a large bowl. Add in the pot cheese, sugar and sour cream. Mix. (Start with 8 eggs). It should be well mixed and soupy. If it is not soupy, add an extra beaten egg or two.

Drain the noodles, tossing them gently until the excess water is removed. Transfer them to a large bowl. Take the stick of butter and swirl it around the hot, drained noodles, This will melt the butter and evenly distribute it among the cooling noodles.

When the noodles have cooled off, fold the cheese –egg-sour cream-sugar mix into the noodles until it is combined evenly. Pour it all into a greased 9 by 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with a dusting of cinnamon. Bake at 350 for about one hour or until the top is browned until the egg custard has set.

Let it stand and cut into square portions, Serve hot or cold.

Note from Joan: The author advises that it is best to let the refrigerated ingredients reach room temperature before using. This can be very tricky with eggs. I prefer to make noodle pudding with eggs right from the frig.