Where there is Italian cooking, there will always be Marcella Hazan

October 25, 2013Posted in:

I just saw this cartoon about the great Marcella Hazan, who you probably know died in September.
The cartoon is from The New Yorker cartoonist David Sipress and you can also read his full tribute to Marcella here.

David writes about how she changed his life and really, I think she did that for everyone she came in contact with. She certainly changed mine.

I met Marcella later in my life – I believe it was in 2001 – and right away I wished I had met her years earlier. To be honest, when I met Marcella I think there was a stronger, more emotional feeling for me than when I met Julia Child. I don’t know if it was because of my age – I did meet Julia when I was younger – or because of Marcella’s passion for Italian cooking, but her personality was incredible. Her love for cooking was infectious and she was always honest. But Marcella was not only a great teacher and chef, she also had a wonderful private relationship with her husband, Victor.

Before that, I used to only know Marcella on paper – from her books – as she was one of the pioneers in teaching Americans how to eat Italian food in the right way. Even today, her books are really the basis of Italian cooking.

In fact, I read a quote from Marcella’s husband Victor, a wonderful man who she had a great relationship with, in her New York Times obituary. He said something that really struck me as it fits with my own belief system about cooking. Victor said that, “Marcella was always very distressed when she would read complicated chefs’ recipes. She would just say, ‘Why not make it simple?’ So the sentiment holds. We will make it simple.”

If you know me and my cooking, you know that I too believe that simplicity is the most important element in cooking good food. Simple, fresh, honest, and classic.

As I sit here thinking of Marcella, I see her standing in front of me with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a cigarette in another. And while I know that she is no longer here, I truly believe that where there is Italian cooking, there will always be Marcella.

Here is a great video of Marcella cooking with Mark Bittman a few weeks before she died: http://nyti.ms/18ZgnxO.