Widely credited with introducing proper Italian food to the English-speaking world, Marcella Hazan is as authentic as they come. Raised in Cesenatico, a quiet fishing town on the northern Adriatic Sea, she’d eventually have her own cooking schools in New York, Bologna, and Venice. There she would teach students from around the world to appreciate—and produce—the food that native Italians eat. She’d write bestselling and award-winning cookbooks, collect invitations to cook at top restaurants, and have thousands of loyal students and readers—some so devoted they’d name their daughters Marcella. Her fans will be as surprised and delighted by how this all came to be as Marcella herself has been.
Marcella begins with her early childhood in Alexandria, Egypt, where she broke her arm. After nearly losing the arm to poor medical treatment, she was taken back to her father’s native Italy for surgery. There the family would remain. Her teenage years coincided with World War II, and the family relocated temporarily to Lake Garda— not anticipating that it would be one of the war’s greatest targets. After years of privation and bombings, Marcella was fulfilling her ambition to become a doctor and professor of science when she met Victor, the love of her life. They married and moved to New York City. Marcella knew not a word of English or—what’s more surprising—a single recipe. She began to attempt to re-create the flavors of her homeland. She took a Chinese cooking class in the early ’60s with women who asked her to teach them Italian cooking, and she began to give them lessons. Soon after, Craig Claiborne invited himself to lunch, and the rest is history.
Amarcord means “I remember” in Marcella’s native Romagnolo dialect. In these pages Marcella, now eighty-four, looks back on the adventures of a life lived for pleasure and a love of teaching. Throughout, she entertains the reader with stories of the humorous, sometimes bizarre twists and turns that brought her love, fame, and a chance to change the way we eat forever.
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