It was arguably Nora Ephron's 2009 film Julie & Julia that most fully thrust her love of food into Hollywood's bright spotlight, but the woman whose work includes landmark titles like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle had for years littered her stories, films and plays with references to eating. And eating well, we might add.

The novelist-screenwriter-journalist-director-producer-playwright (her title could go on and on) has always been candid about the enriching role food played in her life offscreen and off the page.

In the 1960s, Ephron first discovered Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and cooked her way through a deal of it -- much like Julie, Ephron's real-life character in Julie & Julia.

She also spilled to food blog Epicurious about the Southern black women who cooked in her childhood home and the rich family dinners of jambalaya, yeast rolls, fried chicken and pies.

When asked about her own signature recipes, Ephron replied in classic form:

If there is a Nora Ephron signature anything it is that there's slightly too much food. I have a friend whose mantra is: You must choose. And I believe the exact opposite: I think you should always have at least four desserts that are kind of fighting with each other.

She wrote at length for Gourmet about her summer-time appetite for cherries, which she'd take out of the fridge first thing in the morning and pluck from all day. And in 2009, New York Times food critic Sam Sifton wrote about the terrifying challenge of cooking Ephron's famous home-cooked dish, meatloaf, for a potluck dinner in her honor.

But as was Ephron's style, her personal stories were most often the stuff of inspiration. So it was with food, which not-so-subtly crept its way into her work. In 1975, she penned "Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women." Her 1983 novel, Heartburn, which was adapted into a movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson three years later, features a food writer protagonist who works at a New York magazine. The novel itself is flecked with recipes.

Food references abound in nearly all her other films. The best example could be a scene in When Harry Met Sally in which Meg Ryan's character fakes an orgasm in Manhattan's Katz's Delicatessen.

"I'll have what she's having," says Rob Reiner's mother in her famous cameo.


A pivotal scene in another critical favorite, 1993's Sleepless in Seattle, has Tom Hanks' character comforting his young son with memories of his mother.

"She could peel an apple in one long, curly strip," Hanks says gently, his mind lost in a warm memory.

In 1996, Michael starred John Travolta in the starring role, an angel come to Earth who smells like baked goods to women. Co-star Andie MacDowell is a self-proclaimed angel expert who sings about pie.


Later in her career, Ephron took to blogging for The Huffington Post. Her pieces, as one might expect, quickly strayed from the conventional. She turned, for instance, a post asking for Thanksgiving recipe submissions into a hilarious musing on the all-too-common unwillingness to deviate from an established holiday menu:

What we're looking for is not the thing you cook year in and year out, but the recipe you're trying this year for the first time in order to give yourself the illusion that your Thanksgiving dinner this year is slightly different from your Thanksgiving dinner last year. This, in turn, is meant to make you believe that you are capable of change.

She also wrote on topics as far-ranging as her lament at the discovery that Teflon products might cause cancer and a gut-busting rant about the tasteless state of egg-white omelettes.

In ways, it's fitting that Julie & Julia was Ephron's last film. We'll leave you with one of our favorite quotes by her, which she gave to Newseek amid a media blitz for the film:

Everybody dies, there’s no avoiding it and I do not believe for one second that butter is the cause of anyone’s death. Overeating may be, but not butter, please. I just feel bad for people who make that mistake. By the way the same thing is true of olive oil. What difference could it possibly make if there’s a little olive oil in your salad dressing? It does not take one day off your life.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • "Every time I'm forced to watch them eat egg-white omelettes, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed." <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-ephron/the-informational-cascade_b_67923.html" target="_hplink">Huffington Post</a>, October 2007</em>

  • Q: Do you consider any food a romantic deal-breaker? A: I respect vegetarians, but I could never fall in love with one. Q: The New Yorker described you as someone who eats "slowly" in "small, tidy bites." What should we infer from that? A: That I want my meals to last forever. <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/opinion/02dowd.html" target="_hplink">Interview with Maureen Down, New York Times</a>, August 2009</em>

  • Q: Foie gras: Yes or no? A: Yes! Are you kidding? <em><a href="http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/chefsexperts/interviews/noraephroninterview" target="_hplink">Epicurious</a></em>

  • "If there is a Nora Ephron signature anything it is that there's slightly too much food. I have a friend whose mantra is: You must choose. And I believe the exact opposite: I think you should always have at least four desserts that are kind of fighting with each other." <em>Interview with <a href="http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/chefsexperts/interviews/noraephroninterview" target="_hplink">Epicurious</a></em>

  • "It's not that I'm not obsessed about food. I really am and I'm sitting in a room right now with food and I'm 10 feet away from it and I've been thinking the whole time I've been talking to you, is the telephone cord is long enough for me to get some food?" <em><a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/pop-vox/2009/08/03/15-food-questions-for-nora-ephron.html" target="_hplink">Newsweek</a>, August 2009</em>

  • "There's no point in making piecrust from scratch." <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-ephron/what-i-wish-id-known_b_26337.html" target="_hplink">I Feel Bad About My Neck</a></em>

  • "And so, Thanksgiving. Its the most amazing holiday. Just think about it -- it's a miracle that once a year so many millions of Americans sit down to exactly the same meal as one another, exactly the same meal they grew up eating, and exactly the same meal they ate a year earlier. The turkey. The sweet potatoes. The stuffing. The pumpkin pie. Is there anything else we all can agree so vehemently about? I don't think so." <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nora-ephron/thanksgiving-recipes-food_b_786217.html#s191990&title=Artichoke_Pie" target="_hplink">Huffington Post</a>, November 2010</em>

  • "I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them." <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Heartburn-Nora-Ephron/dp/0679767959/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1340742110&sr=8-2&keywords=heartburn" target="_hplink">Heartburn</a></em>

  • "Are we really all going to spend our last years avoiding bread, especially now that bread in American is so unbelievable delicious? And what about chocolate?" <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Feel-Bad-About-My-Neck/dp/0739342924" target="_hplink">I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman</a></em>

  • "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!" <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Heartburn-Nora-Ephron/dp/0679767959/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340742679&sr=1-1&keywords=heartburn+nora+ephron" target="_hplink">Heartburn</a></em>

  • "[I] had gotten to the point where I simply could not make a bad vinaigrette, this was not exactly the stuff of drama. (Even now, I cannot believe Mark would want to risk losing that vinaigrette. You just don't bump into vinaigrettes that good.)" <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Heartburn-Nora-Ephron/dp/0679767959/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340742679&sr=1-1&keywords=heartburn+nora+ephron" target="_hplink">Heartburn</a></em>

  • "Whenever I get married, I start buying Gourmet magazine. I think of it as my own personal bride's disease." <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/CRAZY-SALAD-PLUS-9-Ephron/dp/067150715X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340742652&sr=8-1&keywords=crazy+salad+plus+nine" target="_hplink">Crazy Salad Plus Nine</a></em>

  • "I guess I've always been a food obsessive, and it has gotten worse the older I've gotten." <em><a href="http://www.gourmet.com/food/2009/08/my-day-on-plate-nora-ephron" target="_hplink">Gourmet</a>, August 2009</em>

  • "Everybody dies, there's no avoiding it and I do not believe for one second that butter is the cause of anyone's death. Overeating may be, but not butter, please. I just feel bad for people who make that mistake. By the way the same thing is true of olive oil. What difference could it possibly make if there's a little olive oil in your salad dressing? It does not take one day off your life." <em><a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/pop-vox/2009/08/03/15-food-questions-for-nora-ephron.html" target="_hplink">Newsweek</a>, August 2009</em>