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Oct 2, 2001 05:25 PM

Marcella Hazan cookbooks

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I have been convinced by the various adulations posted on this board to buy one of Marcella Hazan's cookbooks (I love to cook, have always noticed her cookbooks but never bought one). I am wondering which one people would suggest. I am inclined to buy THE ESSENTIALS OF ITALIAN COOKING, since it seems to include both of her first two books in one. Any and all advice is welcome! Also, please note that I don't eat meat or poultry (though I do eat fish)--in case that brings anything to bear on your suggestions.


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  1. I think it's a good choice. I have her first, which is great, as well as this one --but I think she culled the best of the best for this volume.

    1 Reply
    1. re: berkleybabe

      The first two books are excellent primers, but the best fish recipes may well be in "Marcella Cucina." Enjoy the book, whatever you get. Marcella is an acerbic treasure.

    2. c
      Carolyn Tillie

      I occasionally use Marcella' Italian Kitchen but have to confess that I get more basic information from Jeff Smith's Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian (and I own and reference several hundred cookbooks on various subjects).

      1. v
        Vital Information

        Not only do Hazan's books make great recipes, they make great guides to the eating habits of Italians. In fact, every time I look at one of her books, I get reminded of how rare is it to find food in the USA that matchs the style and substance of Italian cooking.

        1. l

          I have The Essentials and find it most useful for pairing types of sauces with types of pasta--she has the most comprehensive suggestions for this that I've seen. I think good Italian cooking is generally intuitive, which she seems to understand very well. I guess if someone had to write down a recipe for spaghetti with garlic and oil, it might as well be her.

          1 Reply
          1. re:
            Pat Goldberg

            Some Italian cooking is intuitive, and some is not. Take for example, Marcella's recipe for pot-roasted lamb with juniper berries. At least for me, there was nothing intuitive about it, yet it has become a semi-regular on our home menu. Similarly, Lidia Bastianich has a recipe for lamb shank braised with rosemary and orange that I love, but I certainly wouldn't call it "intuitive."

            Hmmm... must have an urge for braised lamb....

          2. Essentials Of Classic Italian Cooking is a very good cookbook to have. Marcella writes well, and this cookbook includes Italian dishes, and many recipes that are mainstream, including breads, vegetables, etcetera. Diagrams are helpful, but I would've enjoyed a bit of photography, to show what the food looks like.
            This book is so thorough, and includes such a vast array of recipes, I can't imagine anyone making a mistake in buying it. This cookbook, and the New York Times Cookbook, are the two best cookbooks I have, and I refer to them constantly.
            However, I have heard that Marcella Cucina, the newest cookbook Marcella has marketed, is very good. I don't own that one, and I'm reluctant to buy it, because Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking seems to cover everything so well. Perhaps someone who owns both could comment.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Greg

              I have the new book as well as its predecessor, which was not "Essentials," but "Marcella's Italian Kitchen." Both of the newer books contain new recipes, only a few of which I have tried, but these with excellent results. The two new books have less "essential" recipes, i.e. not classics which many Italian cooks use, but Marcella's variations on classic themes. I think the newer books are very much worth having, but some might ask how many Italian recipes, even good ones, a cook needs.