By now anyone who's interested in food and foodies will have seen Julie and Julia, Nora Ephron's block-busting film about Julia Child's years in France and the modern-day blogger who idolized her.
While I admire Julia Child (I have a 1965 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking from my beloved stepmother, may she rest in peace), and much as I may identify with blogger Julie Powell, my real hero in all of this is Nora Ephron.
Yes, that Nora Ephron. The one who felt bad about her neck. The one who turned the heartbreak of being dumped by her husband when she was 6-months pregnant into a bestselling book, Heartburn. The one who wrote and directed When Harry Met Sally and many other films, including, most recently, Julie and Julia.
Nora Ephron is the patron saint to all of us bewildered women who choose to deal with the nonsense of life as just more grist for a humor column. Wildly successful. Lived for years in the fantastic Apthorp on the Upper West Side (the kind of grand old courtyard apartment building with 3,000 square foot apartments of the sort only celebrities and hedge fund managers can live in now.) and raised her kids there, paying the rent as a writer. She was the kind of woman who laughed at her every flaw, dressed in black, got a payout for her every creative impulse.
She even provided me with the defining quote of my life, "Everything is copy." (An adage I've lived by since high school, much to the chagrin of friends, family and assorted acquaintances.)
Why can't I be Nora Ephron? Sigh. Why indeed.
I saw her once, a year or two ago, at a restaurant in Los Angeles. Coincidentally, I was supposed to have gone and seen her speak that night at UCLA, but opted instead to have high-end pizza with an editor friend. It was a star sighting of the highest magnitude for me. Angelina who? Whatever. But NORA EPHRON??! I stared at her over my friend's shoulder, gawping like a fanboy.
"Go get her autograph," my editor whispered.
"No!" I hissed. "I don't want to bother her! She's with her friends."
And so I stared adoringly at her from two tables over all night instead.
Now, with the shocking news of Ephron's passing, I wish I'd been brave enough to say hello, to tell her she was my role model.
So, in the spirit of fabulous women who love to cook but make a mess of everything else around them, I offer up Nora's recipe for foolproof vinaigrette. Yes, even I've made it, to surprised accolades.
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon mustard
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons olive oil
Using a fork, whisk the mustard with the vinegar until combined. Then, still whisking, slowly add the olive oil, until the vinaigrette is thick and creamy. You may or may not want to add a pinch of salt or pepper.
Nora, I raise my measuring cup. This salad's for you.