Food52 Staff

Secret FOOD52er Nora Ephron

June 28, 2012


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.)

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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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lori Lyn Narlock
    Lori Lyn Narlock
  • davidpdx
  • edamame2003
  • blanka.n
  • mcs3000
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


Lori L. July 22, 2012
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!
em-i-lis July 23, 2012
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."
Lori L. July 24, 2012
Oh my gosh! Thank you! I'm thrilled to have this recipe. Where'd your mom get a copy of the book?
em-i-lis July 24, 2012
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:
If you make the cheesecake, let me know if it's as you remember!
davidpdx July 7, 2012
Nicely done combined "obit" in the Economist magazine on Nora and Lonesome George. It will make you smile:
edamame2003 June 30, 2012
every article. every quote. just another level of greatness and relatability. thanks for this. a wonderful start to the morning.
blanka.n June 29, 2012
A very nice tribute . . . .
mcs3000 June 28, 2012
I absolutely adore Nora Ephron.
nightkitchen June 28, 2012
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 June 28, 2012
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.
ChefJune June 29, 2012
...and I believe Mimi Sheraton is coming close to that 95 right now...
Gmarkb June 28, 2012
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."
Greenstuff June 28, 2012
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.
dymnyno June 28, 2012
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.
drbabs June 28, 2012
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.
fiveandspice June 28, 2012
Such a remarkable person. There are really no words. But, this is a wonderful tribute.
em-i-lis June 28, 2012
I am so, so sad about Nora's death. What a smart, honest, authentic, hilarious woman who really lived her life! An inspiration!
Panfusine June 28, 2012
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!
naomisachs June 28, 2012
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.
Kitchen B. June 28, 2012
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.