Food for Thought: Ephron on Food Establishment, Plus ça change…

Nora Ephron (from

While doing some research in a few books (remember those?) on our shelves at the James Beard Foundation, I came across an article about the Food Establishment by Nora Ephron published in September 1968. It was reprinted in a 2007 collection called American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes, edited by Molly O’Neill. As I read and laughed out loud I couldn’t help but think how 42 years later the same issues and inanities resonate with our current food world. Back then, Ephron distinguished the Greenwich Village–living, Balducci’s–shopping Food Establishment from the Restaurant Establishment, the Chef Establishment, the Food-Industry Establishment, the Gourmet Establishment and the Wine Establishment. Within the Food Establishment she pitted the “revolutionaries,” whose “virtues are performance, availability of product, and less work for mother,”  in mortal combat with the “purists or traditionalists,” whose “virtue is taste.” She knocked the overly sponsored, media hungry “experts” and the gossipy world of those who envied and admired them.

Substitute Williamsburg for Greenwich Village and Marlowe & Daughters for Balducci’s, add Twitter and facebook and you have New York City’s food world, circa 2010. I would encourage you to download the pdf of the article I linked to above and read it because, as the old saw goes, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Or, as a francophile purist preoccupied with taste might say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


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