RIP Marion Cunningham
Marion Cunningham was known as “Fannie Farmer” to a generation of Americans. The cookbook icon passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 90, she had been suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s for several years.
Late to the writing game, Cunningham got her start at the age of 57 on a suggestion by the aclimaed James Beard to rewrite the 1896 classic “Bostong Cooking School Cookbook.” Cunningham was a cooking student pupil of Beard’s at the time.
Re-released as “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook,” Cunningham’s revision was an instant best-seller. She went on to write seven more cookbooks, including two more bestsellers on baking and breakfast. Cunningham was also a longtime columnist for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle and had a brief television cooking show called “Cunningham and Company.”
Though not a popular name in the food world, her influence was felt by many. She was a mentor to many of California’s top names in the culinary world including Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower and Judy Rogers.
In a statement on her passing, her longtime editor Judith Jones at publisher Alfred Knopf said:
“Marion Cunningham epitomized good American food. She was recommended to me by Jim Beard when we agreed to take over ‘The Fannie Farmer Cookbook’ and update it from start to finish. She was someone who had an ability to take a dish, savor it in her mouth, and give it new life. At a time when Americans were embracing all kinds of foreign cuisine, Marion Cunningham’s love and respect for American food helped ‘The Fannie Farmer Cookbook’ once again earn a place in kitchens across America.”