NEW YORK -- Cecily Brownstone, a cuisine maven who wrote cookbooks and articles on food for the Associated Press for 39 years, has died. She was 96.
Ms. Brownstone died Tuesday at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, said her nephew, author Jonathan Ned Katz. The cause was pneumonia.
Ms. Brownstone, a native of the hamlet of Plum Coulee, Manitoba, became interested in food at an early age and devoted most of her life to writing about it. She became a leading figure in New York's circle of cookbook authors and restaurant critics and one of the nation's most widely published food writers.
''She was a diva in the field, and she spoke on the phone every morning at 8 o'clock with James Beard," the cookbook author and cuisine expert, Katz said. ''They gossiped about food."
Ms. Brownstone ''was one of the foodies before they called it that," he said.
Her close friends in the field also included Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, authors of the ''Joy of Cooking" books.
From 1947 until she retired in 1986, Ms. Brownstone wrote two columns on cuisine and five recipes a week for the AP. She was also food editor of Parents magazine and child care editor of Family Circle magazine.
Her own cookbooks included ''Cecily Brownstone's Associated Press Cookbook" and ''Classic Cakes and Other Great Cuisinart Desserts," co-authored with Carl Sontheimer, founder of the Cuisinart company.
Ms. Brownstone, who never married, lived in Greenwich Village, where she hosted social gatherings at which food was the primary subject, Katz said.
While her main interest was American food, her favorite recipe was country captain, a chicken dish of Indian origin. As published by The New York Times, the recipe called for ''1 cup of pepper." The typographical error caused one reader to complain that he ''nearly died," Katz said.
Brownstone amassed a collection of 8,000 cookbooks, 5,000 food pamphlets, and hundreds of letters, which she donated to the Fales Collection at New York University in 2002.