In late 2006, I had a new baby, an emotional toddler, and a three-story, 4-foot-wide London rental house with a musty basement and mice the size of raccoons in the kitchen. I did what so many before me had done; I tried my hand at writing.
My in-laws came to visit, and I showed them my first piece. Strictly speaking, I was already a writer, having worked as a contract writer for the year before we moved to the UK. But this was my first piece in my voice, my first attempt at authorship. It was about the trials and tribulations of feeding my eldest, entitled “The Parents’ Survival Guide to Picky Eaters.”
After reading it, my mother-in-law looked at me and gave me the highest compliment a woman of her generation could possibly bestow: “You’re going to be the Nora Ephron of parenting.”
Talk about setting the bar high.
I’ve always wanted to be like Ephron. My book, Cooking on the Edge of Insanity, is in no small part inspired by Heartburn. Of course it is. Who wouldn’t be inspired by Ephron? Who of my generation doesn’t periodically look at her husband and say, “Waiter, there is too much pepper in my paprikash?” Tell me there’s not some equivalent of the wagon-wheel table in your house.
Nora Ephron made sentences that danced on a sword tip. She was like Keats, bursting words on the back of your palate like grapes. Comedy is timing, yes, but it is also getting the words just right, taking it just far enough but reining in the joke so the tension is perfectly balanced. Ephron’s comedy had a light flavor but filled your cheeks with taste.
Rest well, Nora.