Fred Ferretti, Reporter Turned Writer on Food, Dies at 90

In 1971, when Norman Lear’s “All in the Family” premiered, Mr. Ferretti, briefly in the role of TV critic, wrote: “Tonight the Columbia Broadcasting System Television Network will find out if Americans think bigotry and racism, as the prime elements of a situation comedy, are funny.” He didn’t. The racial and ethnic epithets spouted by Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker, he wrote, “don’t make one laugh so much as they force self‐conscious, semi‐amused gasps.”

In addition to Gourmet, he contributed to Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine and Food Arts magazines and wrote a weekly column, “Travels With Fred,” for the Copley News Service.

In 1989, members of Entrée, a travel and food newsletter, voted Mr. Ferretti “Best Food Writer in America.”

For all the serious subjects he covered, he could at times betray an irrepressible puckishness.

In 1972, when New York courts were considering banning the film “Deep Throat” as obscene, Arthur Gelb, The Times’s metropolitan editor at the time, assembled a select, if slightly sheepish, group of reporters to go to a nearby pornographic theater to judge the film for themselves.

“Less than halfway through the film,” Mr. Gelb recalled in his book “City Room” (2003), “the theater’s loudspeaker blared out, ‘Mr. Arthur Gelb, metropolitan editor of The New York Times, is wanted back at his office.’ I learned later that it was Fred Ferretti who impishly had called the movie theater’s manager. ‘Mr. Gelb is hard of hearing,’ Fred told him, ‘so be sure and page him nice and loud.’”

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