Thursday, September 20, 2012
Oral History with Cecily Brownstone
I was so excited to receive a package from the Fales Library at New York University yesterday. In it was an oral history that food writer Laura Shapiro conducted with longtime A.P. food editor Cecily Brownstone. (The photo above is in her papers - this was taken at a 1951 party for the author of The Joy of Cooking.)
Some highlights from the oral history:
* Unlike the charges of food editors taking advertising money: "I stayed away from manufacturers in my A.P. days." She would not mention brand names in stories or recipes. She said: "A.P. would not have allowed that. And I was smart enough not to want to do it." She said these ethical guidelines were reinforced during the Van Doren quiz-show scandal in 1959.
* There were several mentions of NYT Food Editor Jane Nickerson. The two women socialized often - many times sharing meals with James Beard. At one point, Brownstone travels to Florida to meet with Nickerson.
* She admired Poppy Cannon - author of the Can-Opener Cookbook, among others.
* Cecily said of Alice Waters' famous restaurant: "It was a grubby little place."
* Most interesting to me was a claim by Brownstone that Nickerson wrote the first edition of the New York Times Cookbook. I am looking into that