Two of the many movies that make me want to see New York are When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. Yes, Nora Ephron largely formed the version of the city in my head, a romantic version filled with walks along Central Park, autumn colors, brownstones, bookstores, coffee shops and delis. (Hundreds of Law & Order and NYPD Blue episodes in the past though has tempered that romantic vision a bit.)
Nora Ephron was a gifted writer, whose works–from romantic comedies to essays–always resonated with many readers and movie-goers. Her style of writing, the dialogue in her movies–they were always sharply observed, funny and true. She wrote some seriously funny lines because they always had truth in them. An American comedian once said, “Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.” Ms. Ephron was especially gifted when it came to putting that curlicue at the end. It made the truth so much easier to chew on. This and this are two beautiful pieces about her in the New York Times.
I’ve been reading her again and reading so many stories about her in the past few days. She knew how to write the truth and how to make you laugh at the same time–whether it was about relationships, aging, life or death. She also knew food. NY Times’ national editor and former Dining editor, Sam Sifton wrote, “She may be to food as Scorsese is to bar fights.” The food was always glorious–in Heartburn, Julie and Julia, and yes, even When Harry Met Sally.
Katz’s Delicatessen in the Lower East Side was one of the locations in When Harry Met Sally. In the famous scene, before Sally made every man and woman laugh (or wince), the sandwiches (Billy Crystal eating what I think was pastrami sandwich and Meg Ryan taking out most of the slices of meat from her sandwich) made me want to go to the nearest deli. Then of course Sally took over the scene and you forget about the sandwich. Though I always made a mental note of it and that deli, which, for someone who’s never been to New York, became my image of what a quintessential New York deli looks like. So P made sure to stop by Katz’s with friends from New York who were more than happy to take him there and show him the table that got a good fist pounding from Meg Ryan. And yes, he said the sandwich was good.