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Secret FOOD52er Nora Ephron

By • June 28, 2012 • 22 Comments

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Nora Ephron

On Tuesday, we lost our good friend, the writer, director, and cook Nora Ephron. Like you, we want to gather and grieve, and to celebrate her life and career, her sharp humor, and her love of a good meal. (To say nothing of her searing scrutiny of a bad one.)

First, we'd like to share a recipe of hers that may look familiar: Sweet Potatoes Anna with Prunes -- it's the best Thanksgiving side we know. Ephron took on the nom de plume mrsp on FOOD52, and seemed to get a kick out of her anonymous, lasting contribution to the community. She also shared her recipe for the World's Greatest Chili, and was intensely annoyed that it wasn't named a finalist or even a community pick in the chili contest. It's tough love here at FOOD52.

The Internet is now awash in Ephronisms on fashion, aging, ambition, and life. But food was one of her very favorite topics -- a valedictory list of things she'd miss when she was gone ended with "Pie" -- and we've gathered some of our favorite of her culinary observations below. We hope you'll share your favorites in the comments:

From I Feel Bad About My Neck, her memoir about aging:

On how she learned to cook: I cooked every single recipe in Michael Field's book and at least half the recipes in the first Julia, and as I cooked, I had imaginary conversations with them both. Julia was nicer and more forgiving -- she was by then on television and famous for dropping food, picking it up, and throwing it right back into the pan.

From Wallflower at the Orgy -- this quote is from her essay "The Food Establishment" which, in the words of the New York Times' Pete Wells, "predicted this food world we are marinating in now":

Before long, American men and women were cooking along with Julia Child, subscribing to the Shallot-of-the-Month Club, and learning to mince garlic instead of pushing it through a press. Cheeses, herbs, and spices that had formerly been available only in Bloomingdale's delicacy department cropped up around New York, then around the country.

From I Remember Nothing, her last memoir:

On egg-white omelettes: You don't make an omelette by taking out the yolks. You make one by putting additional yolks in. A really great omelette has two whole eggs and one extra yolk, and by the way, the same goes for scrambled eggs.

From Heartburn, her drawn-from-life novel that was made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson:

Every so often I would look at my women friends who were happily married and didn't cook, and I would always find myself wondering how they did it. Would anyone love me if I couldn't cook? I always thought cooking was part of the package: Step right up, it's Rachel Samstat, she's bright, she's funny, and she can cook!

I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.

From "What to Expect When You’re Expecting Dinner", The New York Times, 2006:

The pepper shaker contained ground black pepper, which was outlawed in the 1960’s and replaced by the Permanent Floating Pepper Mill and the Permanent Floating Pepper Mill refrain: “Would you like some fresh ground black pepper on your salad?” I’ve noticed that almost no one wants some fresh ground black pepper on his salad.

I resent that asking for salt makes me seem aggressive toward the chef, when in fact it’s the other way around.

From "Serial Monogamy", The New Yorker, 2006:

This was right around the time that arugula was discovered, which was followed by endive, which was followed by radicchio, which was followed by frisee, which was followed by the three M's -- mesclun, mache, and microgreens -- and that, in a nutshell, is the history of the past forty years from the point of view of lettuce. But I'm getting ahead of the story.

My mother didn't serve Yorkshire pudding, although there is a recipe for it on page 61 of "The Gourmet Cookbook." My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not? You only live once.

From "Can You Eat in Bed?", Interview with Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 2009:

Q: Do you consider any food a romantic deal-breaker?
A: I respect vegetarians, but I could never fall in love with one.

Jump to Comments (22)

Tags: remembering, nora ephron, heartburn, mrsp, food52 staff

Comments (22)

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over 2 years ago lorinarlock

The first--and best ever to this day--cheesecake recipe I made was in Heartburn. I have searched high and low for a copy of it. The one I used to cook that cheesecake was a library copy I borrowed on several occasions. Oh, how I wish I had a copy of that book I'd make that cheesecake in her honor!

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

hi lorinarlock, as it turns out, my mom is reading heartburn right now and i asked her to scan the cheesecake recipe in it... here it is. :)
"Make a nice graham cracker crust and pack it into a 9" pie pan. Then mix 12 oz cream cheese with 4 well-beaten eggs, 1 c sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Pour into the pie shell and bake 45 minutes at 350. Remove and cool 15 minutes. Then spread gently with 2 c sour cream mixed with 1/2 c sugar and bake 10 minutes more. Cool and refrigerate several hours before serving."

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over 2 years ago lorinarlock

Oh my gosh! Thank you! I'm thrilled to have this recipe. Where'd your mom get a copy of the book?

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

You are so welcome. I thought the coincidence was too cool that you mentioned this the very day my mom was telling me what a fabulous book Heartburn is. She bought her copy when it came out; since Nora died, Mom has been rereading all her books and knew just where to find the cheesecake recipe. Here's a link to one for purchase on amazon if you'd like: http://www.amazon.com/Heartburn...
If you make the cheesecake, let me know if it's as you remember!

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over 2 years ago davidpdx

Nicely done combined "obit" in the Economist magazine on Nora and Lonesome George. It will make you smile: http://econ.st/Rlx2W3

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over 2 years ago edamame2003

every article. every quote. just another level of greatness and relatability. thanks for this. a wonderful start to the morning.

Stringio

over 2 years ago blanka.n

A very nice tribute . . . .

Mcs

over 2 years ago mcs3000

I absolutely adore Nora Ephron.

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over 2 years ago nightkitchen

I also loved her very opinionated Piglet entry as the final judge the first year of the competition. Wouldn't it be nice if she could direct all your consumer choices? Will definitely be attempting her sweet potato dish this fall, and the chili, too!

Zora_margolis

over 2 years ago zindc

There aren't nearly enough smart funny Jewish women who can cook in this fershluggeneh world, and we've just lost the President of the Sisterhood. This means that Ruth Reichl simply must live until she's 95, at the very least.

Junechamp

over 2 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

...and I believe Mimi Sheraton is coming close to that 95 right now...

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over 2 years ago Gmarkb

Thanks for this fine tribute. Every time I read Ms. Ephron or heard her speak, she brought a smile my face. In her immortal words that I will always remember her by: "I'll have what she's having."

Chris_in_oslo

over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I remember the Shallot-of-the-Month Club! Much discussion over whether the pronunciation was SHALlot or shalLOT... Thanks for letting us in on this secret corner of her life.

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over 2 years ago dymnyno

She was always one of my favorite writers; books, movies, essays and anything she scribbled. I felt like she was my Jewish sister even though I never met her. I just noticed that I was one of the two cooks who followed her on food52.

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over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I hate it when I read something that makes me cry and I'm at the office--now I have to go repair my mascara. Thanks for this--it's really great. Sob.

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Such a remarkable person. There are really no words. But, this is a wonderful tribute.

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over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

A wonderful tribute, she was a brilliant writer, loved her sarcasm and wit. One of my all time favorties, she will be missed. RIP!

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over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I think you should give a posthumous wildcard to her chili recipe!

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over 2 years ago em-i-lis

Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am so, so sad about Nora's death. What a smart, honest, authentic, hilarious woman who really lived her life! An inspiration!

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over 2 years ago Panfusine

Wow. had no idea that she had a Food52 id.. Make her passing all the more personal.. R.I.P Nora..thanks for the memories!

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over 2 years ago naomisachs

I just spent the last hour delving into all the links in the article. I cannot believe there will be no more Nora. The world will be a poorer place.

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over 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

I loved Nora Ephron, for the liberty and laughter she brought In Julie and Julia. I love her commentary on lettuce. Thanks for a great tribute to a wonder.