Italian Cookbook Author Marcella Hazan Has Died

Mon, 09/30/2013 - 08:27
words by Silvia Donati Marcella Hazan, the Italian cookbook author and teacher whose cookbooks are credited with introducing scores of Americans and British to the delights of authentic Italian food, died Sunday morning at the age of 89, her family announced. Hazan lived in Longboat Key, Florida, with her husband and lifelong collaborator and writing partner Victor. Hazan was best known for her six cookbooks, written by her in Italian and translated into English by Victor. In her books, she tried to explain how Italian dishes are based on simplicity, precision and balance. Her recipes were traditional, tasty and simple - like her famous tomato sauce, made with just tomatoes, onion, butter and salt. "What you keep out is as significant as what you put in," she wrote in her 1997 cookbook "Marcella Cucina". She stayed away from the American-style cooking of Italian food; instead, she kept alive the tastes of her home country. All of her cookbooks advised home cooks to always start with the best and freshest ingredients. Her opinion on garlic, one of the most misused ingredient in Italian-American cooking, was made clear in her 2004 cookbook "Marcella Says...": "The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking. It must remain a shadowy background presence. It cannot take over the show." Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cook Book" (1973), and "More Classic Italian Cooking" (1978) were updated and combined into "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" in 1992. In 2000 she was given the James Beard Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award, one of cooking's highest honors. Marcella Hazan was born in Cesenatico, on the Adriatic coast of Italy in 1924, and moved to the United States with her husband Victor in 1955. She claimed that she did not learn how to cook until she was married and living in New York, to please her husband who appreciated – and missed - good Italian food. "Victor can cope with many bad things in life, but he cannot cope with a bad meal," Hazan was quoted saying. Tributes have poured in from fans all over the world, famous and not. We remember her with this quote about food from her "Marcella Cucina" cookbook: "I need to smell its smells, to hear its sounds, to see food in a pot that simmers, bubbles, sizzles. I enjoy the physical involvement of stirring, turning, poking, mashing, scraping."