In Memory of Marcella Hazan

April 15, 1924 - September 29, 2013

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From Marcella Hazan's post in 2011: Cooking Still Matters

It was announced yesterday that beloved cookbook author and teacher Marcella Hazan passed away after 89 years on this planet. For American cooks of a certain generation, she was instrumental in opening up the world of authentic Italian cuisine when she published The Classic Italian Cookbook in 1973. The fact that several of her books from those early years are still in print to day is a testimony to her skills and expertise.

Marcella grew up in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and received a doctorate in natural science and biology. She married her husband Victor Hazan in 1955 and moved with him to New York soon afterward: ' ... there I was, having to feed a young, hard-working husband who could deal cheerfully with most of life's ups and downs, but not with an indifferent meal.'

Marcella didn't start out as a great cook but she discovered that her memory of the tastes and cooking methods of Italy were sharp, so she began to teach herself. Soon she was giving cooking classes in her apartment and in 1969 she opened a cooking school. Shortly thereafter, she began publishing recipes in the New York Times, which lead to her first cookbook in 1973. She has gone on to publish seven books total, including a memoir Amarcord: Marcella Remembers in 2008.

Perhaps her most well-known and beloved book is Essentials of Italian Cooking (1992) which is still in print today. And one of her most popular recipes is one of her simplest, a four ingredient tomato sauce featured in this post from Faith. Who doesn't have a tin of tomatoes, an onion, some butter and a pinch of salt on hand?

Whether they know it or not, almost anyone who picks up a knife to make homemade Italian food in America today is standing on her shoulders. I hope I speak for all home cooks when I say that we are grateful for her expertise, her generosity and every word she has written on the joys and delights of one of our most favorite cuisines.

→ Read more from Marcella and her family at Educated Palate, their blog

(Image: Hazan family via Educated Palate)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.