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Sep 10, 2008 06:54 PM

Marcella Hazan Interview-NYT

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  1. Yes, a fascinating article. I have her "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" cookbook, though I haven't cooked from it (which means nothing, since I have tons of cookbooks I haven't cooked from). A chef friend of mine said he has never tried a recipe of hers that has turned out badly. Granted, he's a chef, but still, that's a strong endorsement.

    2 Replies
    1. re: weem

      It was the first "Cookbook of the Month" on the Home Cooking board:

      I used it, along with "The Way to Cook" to begin to teach myself how to cook. Hazan is very precise (some might say persnickity) about ingredients and instructions, so it was, I thought, a good way to learn. My copy is now in about 5 sections!

      1. re: MMRuth

        I always thought that Giuliano Bugialli was the most persnickity Italian cook out there. We used to watch a cooking show that he did in Italian some years ago, and then we purchased an English-language video of his about making pasta. For years, one of his lines has become ours. Essentially, he said that if you didn't follow his directions for making pasta what you would get would be "lousy, horrible, homemade fresh pasta." Next to him, Marcella was the soul of liberalism! But neither has ever led me astray with either recipe or technique, and I always check Marcella before any of my other Italian cookbooks.

    2. Paedrus, before TVFN, she was easily the most notable Italian cooking teacher in America. Unfortunately, she never made it to TV.

      "The Essentials" is a compilation of her first two books, "Classic Italian Cooking and "More Classic...." The first one is one of the most dogeared, spotted books in my entire collection! Her Roast Lemon Chicken is one ofthe best recipes in the world, and one of the easiest for a beginning cook. The book is "worth it" for that recipe, alone, imho.

      1. Nice article. Very interesting about their rocky relationships with editors and accusations from Judith Jones that Marcella's ruined her palate with cigarettes and bourbon. I can see how they might be difficult to work with - by the tone of her books, she seems uncompromising. That doesn't stop me from loving each and every word. Phaedrus, you should definitely go back to the Home Cooking board and look for the month in which "Essentials" was the cookbook of the month - lots of great recipes and tips. I have lots of Italian cookbooks but hers are the ones I turn to when I want an authoritative version of anything.

        3 Replies
        1. re: farmersdaughter

          One of the reasons I'm looking forward to Marcella's memoir is that I so enjoyed that of Judith Jones, which I had Mrs. O buy me for Christmas, and now I want to read the Hazans' side of that story. I would imagine that what made it so rocky was a degree of ruthlessness on both sides, a necessary trait in both cooks and editors. Judith was not going to deliver a book she didn't trust completely, not from anybody (including Evan!); I think what she loved most about Julia Child was what a careful technician she was, and how painstakingly she tested her own recipes. But I do want to see what Marcella (speaking through her husband, of course) has to say.

          1. re: Will Owen

            I only knew her as a sort of queen of Italian cooking. I have her books, and like others refer to them as the guide for correct Italian cooking. When I read the little essay she contributed to Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant I realized that I didn't have a clue about this women. She is very interesting and nothing like I pictured. When her bio comes out I will be in line.

          2. re: farmersdaughter

            I'm a huge fan of Marcella's books, but not her.

          3. What I found interesting was the revelation that she only learned to cook later in life (i.e., after a whole other career path). Similar to Julia Child - another who learned to cook a certain cuisine after not knowing a lot about food, and then became its authority and eventually doyenne to Americans.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I loved the quote from the husband that "her voice comes through my fingers". It's a testimonial to one of the more positive aspects of a symbiotic marriage. Her recipes are quite precise and not at all trendy. Her food would never be embellished by foam!

              1. re: lucyis

                I suspect one of the reasons Hazan's recipes would never be embellished by foam is that Italian cooking frowns on embellishment, period. Recipes have a classical simplicity, even purity, and it's considered a sin to embellish or improv upon that.

            2. I never, repeat never, had a bad recipe from Marcella. That's good enough for me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: EclecticEater

                Damn straight. My experience too. Have a cartoon from the New Yorker on my fridge: 2 women in front of a stove, looking at a small shrine on the wall above it. Woman 1 to woman 2: "It's not a saint, exactly. It's Marcella Hazan."