In the beginning there was James Beard* and there was curry and that was it. – Nora Ephron
Are you one of those who think America’s food revolution started in the 1980s…or later?
If you read David Chang’s “Lucky Peach” you might have the impression it started a decade ago.
Or, have you ever wondered if Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray are the first copycat hacks, or exactly when food writing became big enough to foster its own feuds?
Speaking of which, have you ever questioned whether backbiting food critics are a recent invention?
And who among us hasn’t pondered just when “…Paula Peck(?) broke the rules in puff paste?”
If these burning questions, or anything about the true origins of America’s love of better cooking and eating are of interest to you, or if you just want a fascinating and funny read about the writers who made it all happen (in all of their bitchy, preening, small-bore glory), then click here to read Nora Ephron’s very first piece for New York magazine, published on September 30, 1968.
Read it and weep you whippersnappers, and remember: everything old is new again, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
* In the article, Beard is described as a “genial, large, round man,” while in the last issue of Lucky Peach he is described by a writer (who is, no doubt under 40, and even more certainly, never met him) as an “ill-tempered gay man.” All ELV knows is that right up until his death, on January 21, 1985 (when he was the most prominent food writer/personality in America), Beard had a listed number in the Manhattan phone book, and would take the call of any fan, foodie or cook who had a comment or question for him. Try that with Martha Stewart, Tony Bourdain or Rachel Ray sometime. We regret never having called the big guy.