Remembering Johnny Apple


Three years ago, on October 4, R. W. Apple, known as Johnny to one and all, died way too young, at 71. He made his name as a war reporter and then as the kind of all-purpose Timesman who could in an afternoon assemble news scraps from a dozen bureaus and a dozen outside sources into Page One stories with magisterial sweep that made them a true First Draft of History, as our very own fascinating festival at the Newseum, in Washington, last week was called.

(Surf over to the site! I spent much of the weekend "attending" it via the videos and great real-time summaries various colleagues wrote, and recommend you do the same--the reports of individual sessions are full of embedded clips that give you a strong flavor of the whole.)

This is turning into a day of remembrance, with the shock of the closing of Gourmet. The anthologies and celebrations will continue, but the anthology to celebrate is Far Flung and Well Fed, the collection of Johnny's food writing that has just been published and for which I was honored to write the foreword.

Johnny was by nature and temperament an enthusiast. He loved good food, as you could tell from looking at him, and he loved good company just as much. His constant, big, bearish generosity and delight in people came through everything he wrote.

I'll have more to say about this gently rollicking collection, and some excerpts too. But for now, order it yourself, please, for a treat--and for a reminder, as with Gourmet, of what writers at the top of their form can do when given the time and space to satisfy their appetites for food and information.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Health

From This Author

Just In