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Marcella Hazan
June 14, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Marcella Polini Hazan, Cavaliere della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana, has Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She's also got one of those "cooking every recipe in her book" blogs.
posted by Joe Beese (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, just a few hours ago I cooked her baked bluefish over potatoes from that very book. This woman taught me to cook!
posted by johnnybeggs at 7:08 PM on June 14, 2010


She is, by far, my favorite cookbook author. Everything in her books WORK - with ease, comfort, and simple delicousness. She demystifies the essence of great Italian cooking (which shares much with Chinese cooking) - without devovling into bullshit romantic Under a Tuscan Sun wobbliness. Her description that fresh pasta having a lively 'bouyancy' in the mouth was so fucking spot on - I knew right then she was the woman for me. Her husband Victor is one lucky guy.
posted by helmutdog at 7:36 PM on June 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I learned all I know about cooking Italian from Guiliano Hazan's books. He and his mom are fantastic.
posted by kaseijin at 8:42 PM on June 14, 2010


At it's best cooking is about joy and that's what I get from Marcella Hazan's work. Her cookery books are great to read and great to use. I am to cooking what a drunken bear on a unicycle is to balance but even I can create some great dishes from her recipes.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:12 PM on June 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


She demystifies the essence of great Italian cooking (which shares much with Chinese cooking)
Now I'm curious. Could you tell me a bit more about the parallels in Chinese and Italian cooking, helmutdog?
posted by ouke at 12:13 AM on June 15, 2010


Hazan comes up all the time at eGullet because she's just that good. One of the old standbys is her simple tomato sauce which is exactly that: quick, easy, delicious (just splurge on some decent canned tomatoes). As I google about I also stumbled upon this ultimate bolognese thread in which she figures prominently, which gives me lots of ideas for a weekend dinner. For those of you too lazy to click through:

Tomato Sauce

2 cups canned tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half
salt

Add all of the above, cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 45 minutes or "until the fat floats free of the tomato." Remove onion and serve with pasta.
posted by mek at 1:19 AM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


She demystifies the essence of great Italian cooking (which shares much with Chinese cooking)
Now I'm curious. Could you tell me a bit more about the parallels in Chinese and Italian cooking, helmutdog?
posted by ouke at 12:13 AM on June 15 [+] [!]


To me, Chinese and Italian food are both about maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the ingredients. The thing on the plate is still recognizably the thing. Saucing is not key - but where it is used - its an enhancement. Brightness and freshness are the goals. For the most part, ingredient lists are short and techniques simple. Contrast this with many French dishes - where the cooking is much more transformative and sauces play a much larger role. Then there parallel ingredients such as noodles and cured hams (my mom would use proscuitto as a replacement for yunnan ham when I was a child).
posted by helmutdog at 1:25 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


mek: "Tomato Sauce

2 cups canned tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half
salt

Add all of the above, cook uncovered at a slow simmer for 45 minutes or "until the fat floats free of the tomato." Remove onion and serve with pasta.
"

This very recipe gained me a wholly undeserved reputation as a tomato sauce master with Mrs. Beese - who requested it for months afterwards. As with any recipe: the fewer the ingredients, the higher quality each one has to be. So settle for nothing less than San Marzano tomatoes and use the best butter you can find.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:35 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


@helmutdog Thanks for the comment. I get your point vs the French Kitchen. The big difference for me is that Italians are not interested in any other kitchen than their own. Your example illustrates how your mother uses Italian ham. An Italian will kill him/herself with a bigaloro rather than subsitite their proscuitto with Yunnan ham, for instance.
posted by ouke at 6:28 AM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


@ouke - That bigaloro is completely and insanely awesome!!!
posted by helmutdog at 8:03 AM on June 15, 2010


@helmutdog I know, it's been on my Father's Day wishlist for almost a decade. If I don't get one next Sunday, I'll put the child with the most disappointing present on Ebay. Maybe that will help me get the funding.
posted by ouke at 11:00 AM on June 15, 2010


@Joe Beese: I applaud your intent, and I respectfully disagree. Buying San Marzano tomatoes in the US is unnecessarily complicated - and expensive. I once saw a filmed piece with Marcella herself, where she lamented the difficulty of finding San Marzano tomatoes near her home in Florida. Due to all the deceptive - but legal, unfortunately - labeling practices, she decided to skip all the confusion and taste American brands. She found several that were perfectly acceptable (different, but flavorful and well worth using), among them Red Pack (called Red Gold where I live in the Midwest) whole peeled tomatoes. I've used them ever since, and I recommend them highly.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 11:02 AM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This woman taught me to cook

Seriously.

The only thing I never really got, after talking for pages about making broth in The Classic Italian Cookbook, why she began recommending bouillon cubes in later works. Bouillon cubes are vile.
posted by Namlit at 11:08 AM on June 15, 2010


> This woman taught me to cook!

She actually did teach my mom to cook, in person. I've been enjoying the results my whole life. Neener neener.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2010


> She is, by far, my favorite cookbook author. Everything in her books WORK - with ease, comfort, and simple delicousness.

I came here to say pretty much exactly this, and I'm sure glad this post is about an award rather than what I was afraid it might be!
posted by languagehat at 6:02 PM on June 15, 2010


OneMonkeysUncle: "@Joe Beese: ... Buying San Marzano tomatoes in the US is unnecessarily complicated - and expensive. ... She found several that were perfectly acceptable (different, but flavorful and well worth using), among them Red Pack (called Red Gold where I live in the Midwest) whole peeled tomatoes. I've used them ever since, and I recommend them highly."

I believe you have written my weekend menu, sir.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:21 PM on June 15, 2010


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