Tour the market with Marcella Hazan

Recommended without reservation:

ingredientiIngredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market by Marcella and Victor Hazan, from Simon and Schuster, pre-order for Kindle at $10.99 (USD) or hardbound at $12.94 USD (list price, $20.00); scheduled for release Tuesday, 12 July 2016. (NOTE: Prices are subject to change without notice to Sis; always verify prior to purchase, please.)

Although she died in 2013, Marcella Hazan leaves a legacy to today’s cooks in the upcoming publication of a book based on the handwritten notebooks filled with her thoughts on how to select, and how to use, the very best ingredients for classic Italian cooking.

Her husband and longtime collaborator, Victor, translated these notebooks from her native Italian and finished writing and editing them to produce Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market. The book is illustrated with lovely sketches, lively green line drawings of various ingredients.

It’s not the most comprehensive primer on produce, but it is a book that should appeal to both new and accomplished cooks – and both home and professional ones – and some tips and tricks are unique. I particularly appreciate Marcella’s lessons on protecting such ingredients as garlic and onions in an excessively hot and humid climate, lessons that I have not found in other how-to cookbooks written by those lucky enough to live under food-friendly weather conditions.

Ingredienti is not a recipe book. Marcella does describe her preferences for preparing each ingredient, but you won’t find specific quantities or detailed instructions, simply ideas for how to prepare ingredients for cooking – or serving – and most of all for a guide to select each at the peak of perfection.  The writing is casual and very, very personal – as if the “godmother of Italian cooking” were your very own godmother, sitting with you in her kitchen and sharing a lifetime of lessons over cups of espresso.

The result is a book that is a joy to read. Marcella held very strong opinions, some I share and some I do not. I absolutely agree that one must know how to shop before one can know how to cook, but I don’t share her disdain for red and sweet onions. Still, it is her perspective that makes the book so well worth reading no matter how much you do, or do not, know about picking produce and pantry staples and whether you do, or do not, share her likes and dislikes.

Each chapter is essentially an essay on each ingredient, and one that combines both information and instruction. These make the book ideal for a leisurely read . . . but the writing may tempt you to race right through from beginning to end, as I did. Either way, enjoy!featured

Description:  From the inimitable woman who popularized Italian cuisine in America, Marcella Hazan’s simple and elegant manual on how to shop for the best ingredients and prepare the most delicious meals is a must-have for every home cook.

When Marcella Hazan died in 2013, the world mourned the passing of the “Godmother of Italian cooking.” But her legacy lives on, through her cookbooks and recipes, and in the handwritten notebooks filled with her thoughts on how to select the best ingredients—Ingredienti. Her husband and longtime collaborator Victor has translated and transcribed these vignettes on how to buy and what to do with the fresh produce used in Italian cooking, the elements of an essential pantry, and salumi (literally, salted meat).

Before you know how to cook, you must know how to shop. From Artichokes to Zucchini, Anchovies to Ziti, Ingredienti offers succinct and compelling advice on how to choose vegetables, pasta, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, and all of the key elements of Marcella’s classic meals. Organic isn’t necessarily best, boxed pasta can be better than fresh. Marcella’s authoritative wisdom and surprising tips will change the way you cook. Her clear, practical guidance in acquiring the components of good cooking is helpful wherever you choose to shop—in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, specialty food stores, or online.

Based on 60 years of almost daily visits to the market to choose the ingredients of that day’s meal, Ingredienti is a life’s work, distilled—an expression of Marcella’s judgments, advice, and suggestions. Uncomplicated and precise, this volume will be essential to home cooks eager to produce meals in the same delicious style Marcella was the first to introduce to America.

About the authors:  Marcella Hazan (1924-2013) was born in Cesenatico, a fishing village on the northern Adriatic shore of Italy. She studied for a career in the sciences and received two doctoral degrees from the University of Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born American, and moved with him to New York, where she began teaching Italian cooking classes in her apartment. In 1973 she published her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, which introduced Americans to authentic Italian food. Her cooking schools in Italy draw students from around the world. Hazan was the recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards (from the James Beard Foundation in 2000, and the IACP in 2004) and a knighthood from her own country. She was the author of five additional classic cookbooks and a memoir, including Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking ($20.99, Kindle, and $20.65, hardcover, both USD), Marcella Cucina ($31.29 USD, hardcover), Marcella’s Italian Kitchen ($19.90 USD paperback) and Amarcord: Marcella Remembers ($12.99 USD, Kindle; $14.47 USD, paperback).

Victor Hazan Marcella’s lifelong collaborator and writing partner, is an authority on Italian wine and food. He is the author of Italian Wine. He lives in Longboat Key, Florida.

NOTE:  Sis received a complimentary advanced reading copy from Simon and Schuster via NetGalley with the expectation that she would write a review reflecting her own opinions and only her own opinions.  And this she has done.

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