Legendary cookbook author Marcella Hazan died this weekend at the age of 89. Along with her husband Victor, Hazan wrote six cookbooks over the course of her lifetime, including the seminal Classic Italian Cook Book. Hazan, who was born in Italy, dedicated her career to encouraging Americans to cook what she saw as proper Italian food, as opposed to the bastardized American versions of it she found upon moving to the States. On Facebook yesterday, Victor Hazan posted, "Marcella, my incomparable companion, died this morning a few steps away from her bed. She was the truest and the best, and so was her food."
Hazan published her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cook Book, in 1973, and its impact on Italian cooking in this country cannot be overemphasized. She was award a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, and to this day her books are often compared to those of Julia Child in terms of influence.
Hazan would write cooking notes in Italian which her husband then translated into comprehensible English recipes; in 2008 the New York Times called the fact that Victor Hazan "every word of English in Ms. Hazan's books...the worst kept secret in cooking." Hazan also taught cooking classes, which is how Craig Claiborne first heard of her back in the 70s, and was occasionally on television. In fact, April Bloomfield filmed part of her upcoming season Mind of a Chef with Hazan. (Apparently the matching shirts below were a total coincidence.)
Hazan was known for her strong will (and her love for whiskey and cigarettes). She spent a lifetime trying to get Americans to cook simple Italian food with seasonal vegetables, more salt and less garlic. Her most famous recipes include those for fresh pasta, her ragu bolognese, and a tomato sauce made with onions and butter. Hazan influenced chefs and home cooks alike. Mario Batali told the Times, "I didn't pay attention to Julia Child like everyone else said they did...I paid attention to Marcella Hazan."
The world of cooking has lost a giant today. My mother-in-law Marcella Hazan melted away peacefully, my father in law at her side.— Lael Hazan (@educatedpalate) September 29, 2013
more than anyone, marcella hazan brought italian flavors to the US. her books continue to inspire. a true chef's chef. she will be missed— Mario Batali (@Mariobatali) September 29, 2013
I met Marcella Hazan when I first started cooking and she made me obscenely buttered toast with fresh sardines. I'll never forget. RIP— alex guarnaschelli (@guarnaschelli) September 29, 2013
Very very sad to hear the passing of Marcella Hazan .My thoughts are with the her family . You touched my soul .RIP darling Marcella— April Bloomfield (@AprilBloomfield) September 29, 2013
In Italy w John for our anniversary & just heard the sad news Marcella Hazan has passed. We will remember her in our hearts & our food.— rachael ray (@rachael_ray) September 29, 2013
The great Marcella Hazan is gone. RIP. Making her tomato sauce now. When I said how much I loved it she replied "The one with the honion?"— ruthreichl (@ruthreichl) September 29, 2013
Obituaries and Other Remembrances
· Changed the Way Americans Cook Italian Food [NYT]
· Corby Kummer: How Marcella Hazan Made Italian Food All-American [Bloomberg]
· Claudia Luther: Marcella Hazan dies at 89 [LAT]
· Matthew Fort: Marcella Hazan [Guardian]
· Rebekah Denn: Marcella Hazan, Culinary Icon and Internet Sensation [Seattle Times]