Yesterday the culinary world said goodbye to Marcella Hazan. She taught us about Italian food, the Italian art of eating, and the importance of quality ingredients. Her story is rich and her life was long, but it’s never long enough.
Marcella believed cooking for her loved ones was the way to express herself. She cooked lunch every day for her beloved husband Victor in their early years in New York, and eventually cooked lunch for Craig Claiborne. From there, her career took an unexpected trajectory, and she became the singular voice of Italian cooking.
She cooked her way into my heart through her clear writing and her clever recipes using few ingredients. She told us to use fresh ground pepper, and in some recipes, the directions stated how many times to turn the grinder. I loved that sort of precision. She walked me through fresh pasta-making, she taught me how to make tomato sauce and bolognese and lasagne with besciamella. The recipe for grilled vegetables in Classic Italian Cooking is a lesson in recipe writing, stating the order in which the vegetables should go to the grill to ensure the food will be ready at the same time. But Little Veal Bundles? Oh what a recipe. For many years, I called it my Seduction Dinner.
My facebook feed today is full of remembrances. I can think of no better way to remember Marcella than to cook for people I love. Would you like to’ do it together? October 26th, a Saturday night, will you plan a Marcella dinner party with me? We can take photos on Instagram, tweet our menus, put photos on Facebook to show satiated guests around the table, and, if you have a blog, tell everyone what you cooked. Marcella would approve, I believe, particularly if you poured her a bit of bourbon.
Invite people you love. Cook for them from one of Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks. If you don’t have one yet, perhaps it’s time you did?