Marcella Hazan, who passed away on September 29, was my cooking muse. I feel that I knew her well. She fulfilled the role of Italian aunt, she was my Zia from Venice and Florida. Her voice was often bossy but sensible. In the late 1980’s, I owned two small cookbooks by Marcella, all text, no glossy pictures, with recipe titles and indexing in Italian before English (unlike her modern editions). Some of my favourite recipes came from these two volumes and they have become part of my extended family‘s repertoire too. Young chef Daisy can smell Zuppa di bietola e fagioli bianchi as soon as she walks in the door. Marcella not only taught me how to cook down to earth Italian food, but also my first Italian words, soffrito and battuto. No Ciao bella and Va bene for me– it was always about the cooking. From this little beginning, came a degree in Italian, some translating, lots of travelling to Italy, and Italian friends. Marcella completely changed my life. Although sadly I no longer own the modest dark green and maroon cookbooks, my versions of her recipes live on.
Marcella advised, in a forthright manner, on the importance of using salt, so I dedicate my little Italian salt container to the memory of Marcella.
4 thoughts on “Memories of Marcella Hazan”
I was also so sad about her death. I’ve got a little old paperback of hers and am using it a lot. She’s teaching me lots about Italian cuisine. Her bolognese sauce (with milk)–a spiritual experience!
Hi Jann, I am wondering if that old paperback of yours contains the recipe for ‘Zuppa di Bietola e Fagioli bianchi’. As I mentioned in my post, this is our favourite family soup, but we have adapted it over the years and I am in search of the original. I lost all my cookbooks in the bushfires of 2009 here in Melbourne, and this one has been impossible to replace. BTW, I love your blog and have been following it for years. F
What a lovely tribute to Marcella, and what a wonderful influence she had. If only we could understand the power we can have in another person’s life, just by being ourselves… xx
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