Longboat resident finds audience on Internet
Retired chef and cookbook author Marcella Hazan, maiden name Marcella Polini (born 1923), is an Italian cookery writer who writes in English. Her cookbooks are credited with introducing the public in the United States and Britain to the techniques of traditional Italian cooking. She is widely considered by chefs and fellow food writers to be one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine, and she lives right here on Longboat Key.
Recently featured in an AP article by Tamara Lush, Hazan has found a brand new audience via the Internet.
How it all started
Hazan was born in 1923 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She eared a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born, New York-raised Sephardic Jew who subsequently gained fame as a wine writer, and the couple moved to New York City a few months later.
Hazan recounted in her 1997 book “Marcella Cucina,” translated means Marcella Kitchen, that she had never cooked before her marriage. She began by using cookbooks from Italy, but then realized she had a great memory of the flavors she had tasted at home.
She then began giving cooking lessons in her apartment and opened her own cooking school, The School of Classic Italian Cooking, in 1969. In the early 1970s, Craig Claiborne, who was the then-food editor of the New York Times, asked her to contribute recipes to the paper. She published her first book, “The Classic Italian Cook Book,” in 1973.
In 1980, having been published in a version adapted for a British readership by Anna Del Conte, it won an André Simon Award. A sequel, “More Classic Italian Cooking,” followed in 1978; the two were collected in one volume, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking,” in 1992. In 1997 “Marcella Cucina” won the James Beard Best Mediterranean Cookbook award and the Julia Child Award for Best International Cookbook.
Hazan’s cookbooks concentrate on strictly traditional Italian cookery without American or British influence. Her recipes tend to use only ingredients that would actually be used in Italian kitchens (with some concessions for ingredients that are not readily available outside Italy). They are also designed to fit into an Italian menu of two balanced ‘principal courses’ followed by a salad and dessert.
Fast-forward more than 40 years and she is now influencing a new generation of would-be Italian cooks without publishing a book. This time her method is the Internet.
At 88-years-young she has a Facebook page dedicated to teaching ardent fans, giving cooking advice and making new friends.
“Sitting around the dinner table is the most important time for the family,” declares Hazan, who has no patience for people who say they have no time to cook.
The Hazan’s live in a Longboat Key condominium, with a kitchen smaller than many chefs are accustomed, however, perfectly appointed and organized to allow her to not cook daily for her husband, but to allow Facebook friends to be right there with her, learning from the master Italian chef.
Join Marcella on Facebook at www.facebook.com/signamali. Mangia bene, vivi felice… eat well, live happy!