An Interesting Dinner With Nora Ephron


Nora Ephron and I have a few things in common.  We both graduated from Wellesley College.  We both love New York, which she called, ““the most magical, fraught-with-possibility place.” We are both enamored with food and We’re ardent fans of each others work. (Half true.  I am an ardent fan of her work). I once dreamed of following in her screenplay writing and film directing footsteps, but alas, it was not to be.  Once thing I can do, though, is cook her favorite recipe.

Nora Ephron was born to two screenwriters on May 19, 1941 in New York City, and grew up in Beverly Hills in a house “full of apples and peaches and milk.”  She graduated from Wellesley in 1962, and worked as an intern in the White House under John F. Kennedy, then began her career as a magazine journalist who wrote about culture and celebrities. She married Carl Bernstein  (her second husband after Dan Greenburg) in 1976 (of Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal.  When she discovered he was cheating on her while she was seven months pregnant, she wrote a novel about it (“Heartburn”) and soon thereafter earned her first Oscar nomination for Silkwood.  She said of the star, “I highly recommend Meryl Streep play you. If your husband is cheating on you with a carhop, get Meryl to play you. You will feel much better. If you get rear-ended in a parking lot, have Meryl Streep play you. If the dingo eats your baby, call Meryl.”

In return, Ms. Streep had this to say about Ms. Ephron, “She always wears black and she’s so cool and she always has the perfect bon mot to toss off just effortlessly. I mean, who can be like that? Anyway, I was intimidated.” (Streep also starred in the film version of Heartburn).  Ephron was nominated for her second Oscar, for “When Harry Met Sally” (arguably her best film), in 1990. In the early nineties, Ephron began directing as well as writing.  She turned out such classics as “Sleepless in Seattle” (third Oscar nod) and “Julie and Julia.”

She married her third husband, the one that stuck, Nick Pileggi (author of “Wiseguys,” the book “Goodfellas” is based on. In 2006, Ephron published the collection “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” a No. 1 best-seller.  Nora Ephron died from pneumonia, caused by acute myeloid leukemia, on June 26, 2012, at the age of 71.

Nora Ephron left behind a legacy of legendary romantic comedies, inspiration to young women aspiring to success in her field, and an example of what a brilliant mind can do, even in the most dominated professions.  And she left behind delicious traces of what went on in her kitchen.

Her recipe for Chilli:

Nora Ephron’s chasens chili


2 pounds ground chuck, ground big if possible
1 pound ground pork
red pepper chopped
1 green pepper chopped
3 cups chopped onion
2 cloves smashed garlic
3 TB oil
1 stick butter
1 35 oz.can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
4 15 oz. cans pinto beans
2/3 cup chili powder
2 TB cumin
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper


1. Drain beans and rinse. Put into a large casserole with the can of tomatoes. (Remove basil if there’s basil.) Heat for a few minutes.

2. Heat oil and gently cook peppers. When soft add onions and gently cook. Add garlic for a minute or so. Add all to tomatoes.

3. Melt half the butter and cook the beef and pork until no longer raw. Add spices and stir. Add to the tomato mixture and add the rest of the butter. Cook about thirty to forty five minutes, covered, over low heat.


Nora Ephron, by James Oliver Cury, Retrieved March 22, 2015 from

nora ephron’s chasens chili

Nora Ephron. (2015). The website. Retrieved 01:37, Mar 22, 2015, from

Letter from the Archive: Nora Ephron’s Apartment by Erin Overbuy, the New Yorker, June 27, 2014

Nora Knows What to Do by Ariel Levy, the New Yorker, July 6, 2009

Flavorwire Author Club: Nora Ephron’s Guide to Dealing With Heartbreak Through ‘Heartburn’

Nora Ephron’s Commencement Address To Wellesley Class Of 1996

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