Lots of readers of our “senior living” issue last November 22 were envious of Phyllis Spiegel, who chronicled a nearly month-long stay she enjoyed in Aix-en-Provence, France, as part of a Smithsonian Journeys expedition that allowed her to sightsee on her own timetable from a “home base” of a studio apartment.

The headline for the story was “Too Old to Travel? Never.” She never revealed her exact age in that story, but secrets like that are rarely forever. Spiegel died February 24 at the age of 85 (just a few weeks shy of 86). Spiegel, in addition to her freelance journalism for U.S. 1 and other publications, also ran a public relations agency for many years. She was a frequent visitor to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado and filed several dispatches from there to U.S. 1. She wrote in her last story that she was a “poster child for active, engaged seniors.” That’s for sure.

#b#To the Editor: More on Pat Tanner#/b#

Richard K. Rein’s February 21 column really captures Pat Tanner, as she captures the wide range of intriguing, even inspiring, and sometimes dispiriting people in the world of food in our time, in our region.

In my experience, we probably wouldn’t have Slow Food Central Jersey without Pat Tanner, Faith Bahadurian (food writer for the Princeton Packet), and Jim Weaver of the recently closed Tre Piani restaurant. Pat Tanner lives the Slow Food mission, day by day, in ways large and small.

Central to Pat’s career is her enormous integrity. She is — as you merrily describe the costume bit — impeccable about hiding her identity. We who occasionally were her dining companions would have to call to make reservations because Pat’s voice is so memorable.

She would never allow favors to taint reactions nor reviews. Once a major restaurant absolutely insisted. I was the companion, witnessing in the restaurant, and in the review, how carefully she made it known that her meal had been “comped” by the insistent ones.

Pat teaches readers honestly what they, as unknown individuals, can expect at the hands of chefs of all levels, and their staffs and settings. Week after week, I would write Pat, having read her blog and her (sometimes prize-winning) newspaper articles, “Your work gets stronger and stronger. There’s more to this than food.”

I’m delighted that it matters so much to U.S. 1’s editor, also, that Pat specialized in conveying the true character of those she interviewed — especially people of minorities, of “diversity,” with particular emphasis on splendid women in the world of food.

I keep wanting Pat Tanner to write her memoirs as a series of essays, catalyzed by her own enthusiasms. Maybe U.S. 1 you can talk her into this. Meanwhile, I delighted in your yummy last line.

Carolyn Foote Edelmann


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