This cookbook was a Julia Child Cookbook Award Finalist in 1998.
Finalist in the International Category
Cooking Tip from Marcella Cucina:
"Except for bluefish, which should be eaten as quickly as possible after it is caught, whole gutted fish with its skin on, such as this red snapper, whole squid, or unshelled shrimp can be kept in good condition for two or three days in the refrigerator. Cover with ice and put the fish on a rack to let the melting ice drain. Shrimp and squid will fit into a footed pasta colander set over a bowl."
by Marcella Hazan
Photography by Alison Harris
HarperCollins Publishers; $35.00
480 pages; 1997
Reprinted with permission.
"Taste is not produced by just any capricious assortment of flavors. Taste is real, it is a potent sensory encounter that has a deep and satisfying reach, it is a powerful emotion that you experience through your taste buds and that you can store, more perfectly than almost any other, in your memory."
Marcella Cucina is her first completely new collection of recipes in more than a decade from one of the most revered cooks and teachers in the world: Marcella Hazan. It is a book filled with Marcella's passion and personality, a treasure not only of wonderful recipes and gorgeous photographs, but of intimate reminiscences, penetrating judgments and sage commentary about fine food and its preparation, its sensual pleasures and meaning in our lives.
Marcella Cucina is, in every sense, the ultimate book from Marcella Hazan. In its selection of dishes from every corner of her native country, it is the culmination of a life spent exploring the richest pathways of Italian cookery. In its simplicity, practicality and reliability, it is a perfect guide to cooking well in true Italian style—in our American homes, every day, all year long. And, it is literally her ultimate work, as Marcella has declared—with characteristic certainty—that this is the last cookbook she will ever write.
In its 185 recipes, Marcella Cucina leads another exciting journey through the rich and varied landscape of Italian regional cuisines. Marcella shares dishes discovered in her favorite restaurants in Venice, in fishing villages in Sardinia, in the wine country of the Piedmont and a small trattoria in Rome. There are preparations remembered from childhood on the coast of the Adriatic in Romagna, and creations newly inspired by the marvelous seafood of the North American Atlantic, perfected on Long Island. The recipe collection is broad and irresistible, an extraordinary introduction to Italian cooking for those just discovering Marcella, and a treasure of new gems for her longtime students and fans.
Yet, for all the diverse cooking traditions, the heady range of flavors, seasonal ingredients, and techniques presented, Marcella Cucina is a sharply focused and unified volume. Each recipe, Marcella makes clear, says something essential about how she cooks in the Italian style. In the refined, yet powerfully opinionated voice for which she is celebrated, she explains why and how she puts her dishes together, the choices she makes, the nuances of ingredients and cooking techniques. Cooks of every ability will learn from the logic and lucidity of her detailed instructions.
Through Hazan's introductory essays and headnotes, there unfolds the narrative of an extraordinary culinary life. As Marcella recalls a trip, a chance encounter, a meal, or a taste—as she writes about how she shops or refines a dish—we glimpse a girl growing up in a world of great cooks, amidst an idyllic bounty of fresh foods from the sea and garden. We see a young bride learning to cook, discovering a vocation and developing her culinary gifts. And from nearly every page of Marcella Cucina emerges a vivid portrait of her marriage and partnership with Victor Hazan, which, over four decades, has inspired, enriched and shaped her work. This is more than a splendid cookbook. It is also a warm and wonderful love story.
"The Queen of Italian Cuisine." It is a title linked so often to Marcella Hazan—in feature articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Food & Wine and American Way magazines we might well think she was born to wear the crown. But she gained her regal position the old-fashioned way: she earned power and held it.
More than twenty-five years ago, Marcella burst onto the American culinary scene, first as a much sought after private cooking teacher and, in 1973, with her groundbreaking volume, The Classic Italian Cookbook. Almost immediately, she was acclaimed for her prodigious talent and brilliant advocacy for authentic Italian cooking. Her authority was proclaimed by the greatest culinarians in the country: James Beard traveled to Bologna to study with her. Craig Claiborne called her "a national treasure." Julia Child lauded her as "my mentor in all things Italian."
Over the years her dominion has grown—through three more award-winning cookbooks and her legendary classes in Bologna and Venice—as literally millions of home cooks (and scores of chefs and other cookbook writers) have followed her into new realms, filled with the great flavors, fresh foods, and vital spirit of real Italian cooking. The ingredients she made familiar to American tastes—extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pesto, radicchio, fresh pasta and real Parmigiano-Reggiano—have become staples in our common larder; her principles of flavor and freshness have helped reshape how two generations of Americans shop and cook; and her recipes, more than any others, have raised fine Italian cooking to its preeminence as America's favorite cuisine.
With design and illustration as tempting and colorful as its recipes, Marcella Cucina is truly a glorious finale to Marcella's cookbook career. More than in any of her previous books, the photographs in Marcella Cucina add a visual sensuality to the culinary work.
Photographer Alison Harris took all the images in Marcella's Venice, in the colorful Rialto market and in her palazzo apartment. The foods and the finished dishes are illuminated with the haunting natural light of the city. Printed in magnificent four-color throughout the book, they are a striking document of the spontaneous artistry of Marcella's cooking.
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
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