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Amarcord: Marcella Remembers Hardcover – October 7, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 1969 Hazan gave the private cooking class that launched her career as the Italian Julia Child. In an evocative memoir, she recounts her life from childhood to Florida Gulf Coast retirement. Hazan spent her earliest years on another coast, in Cesenatico, a village on the Adriatic; during WWII the family moved to a lake in the mountains between Venice and Milan. Fresh out of the university, she taught college math and science and met a young man who had returned to his Italian homeland after more than a decade in America. He loved food, and his worldliness and sophistication made a good match for the comparatively earthbound author. After they married, the couple moved several times between various places in Italy and America. During a long stay in New York, Hazan began to offer the Italian cooking lessons that later caught the attention of such chefs as New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne. This led to the writing and publication in 1973 of The Classic Italian Cookbook. Hazan's memoir is a terrific history of the expansive, postwar period when Americans were still learning the difference between linguine and Lambrusco, and an engaging chronicle of professional perseverance, chance and culinary destiny. Photos. (Oct.)
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From The New Yorker

Born in Cesenatico, a fishing village near Rimini, in 1931, Hazan married the son of a New York furrier and began cooking for him. Soon, she was giving classes in her Manhattan kitchen, and when Craig Claiborne came to lunch and wrote her up in the Times Hazan was on the map. The city of Bologna built her a kitchen, and she led celebrated cooking classes in Venice. With her husband as translator, Hazan wrote �The Classic Italian Cookbook� (among others), though her publishing adventures were fraught. In this memoir, she does not have the advantage that Julia Child did, of having a voice so familiar that we hear every sentence in her inimitable delivery, but she comes through now and then: �I soon discovered a natural inclination for frying.�
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; First Edition edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592403883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592403882
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found Hazan's book to be one of the most entertaining "foodie" memoirs that I've read. It was a page turner that kept me interested throughout: from her fond descriptions of childhood in Italy through to the end of her teaching career in the magical city of Venice and sweet retirement on the beach in Florida.

Even though I've been a great aficionado of cooking and was aware of several media and publishing personalities, I had somehow not heard of Hazan until recent years. Thus, this memoir was perfect as an in depth introduction to this admirable woman for me. I found the tone completely sincere, frank, and heartfelt. It also made me laugh many times.

I can understand a bit of the previous reviewer's gripe, but I personally didn't find Hazan overly bitter, unhappy, or full of complaint. As I said, she's frank and forthright and speaks her mind even when it seems to verge on being indiscreet (as anyone who has met certain Italian women can attest they do very well!). Mistakes: she's made a few. Regrets: she has a few. Slights: she's felt the sting of a few. However, for me Hazan's love of life, of the many paths on which it has taken her, and above all of GOOD FOOD really shines through. I'm eager to seek out some of her cookbooks.
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Format: Hardcover
Marcella Hazan has been credited with introducing Italian food to the English-speaking world, but until now she's received relatively little attention for her personal life. Her memoir begins in Egypt, where she spent her early childhood, follows her unexpected journey back to family roots in Italy at a young age, and follows her initial ambition to become doctor and professor of science before she marries, moves to America, and began taking cooking lessons to re-create the taste of her homeland. Any who are fans of Hazan's cookbooks, and who like autobiographies, will relish this story of how she evolved to become a world-class cook and teacher.
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By Liz on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Marcella's cookbooks (her Roast Chickens with Lemons is one of the best and easiest recipes I have ever cooked) and I enjoyed her autobiography. It was interesting to learn how she happened upon her illustrious cooking career. I enjoyed her funny anecdotes, especially the one about the call from her son's school in which she was told that they hoped she was making progress in learning how to cook. I found it refreshing that she also shared some of her failures and regrets. As a cook who will never have the tremendous success of writing a best-selling cookbook, it was nice to know that even best-selling cookbook authors can have failures too. I appreciated her candor about some of her professional relationships that did not work out. I did not find it to be "sour grapes." Relationships do not always work out. That's life, and apparently it happens to successful cooks and authors too.
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Format: Hardcover
First, I should admit that I had never heard of Marcella Hazan before I picked up this book to read. I'm not a fan of Italian food and had no idea who she was or why she might be enough of a celebrity to be writing a book about her life.

I was drawn into the book by the descriptions of Marcella's life in Italy before, during, and directly after World War II. There are many memoirs about the Blitz in England and similar stories of life during the war that are based in various areas of the rest of Europe, but I had never read any about rural Italy and how the people coped during the war, so this was a very welcome surprise.

The rest of the book traces how once married and settled into domestic life, Marcella had to learn to cook based on her memories of the foods she enjoyed growing up. I found it fascinating that she had not learned to cook as a child and it was only upon becoming a homemaker she finally began to learn to apply these memories into practical recipes and meals. Even more fascinating was how this grew by chance into a teaching and cookbook writing career. It's a riff on the "immigrant makes good" stories we've all heard.

No, there are no recipes included in the book, but there are many photographs from a life well lived that range from small town Italy to world travels to celebrities who have attended Marcella's cooking classes.

Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Bona fide Marcella Hazan fans -- those who admire not just her habits of cooking, but also her approach to teaching and, in a general sense, to life -- should probably ignore this review and hit "one click" to buy right away. There's a good deal of detail here: no actual recipes, but plenty of cook-talk about ingredients and methods. I think you'll love it; read the book and don't bother with this review.

In general, I enjoy reading about cooks and especially about the movement that began in the mid-20th century to rescue American cooks from frozen dinners and other "convenience" foods. So this book should have been a slam dunk for me and, indeed, I enjoyed its beginning.

Ms Hazan tells a detailed, harrowing story about life in Italy during World War II. I valued this section of the book for its first person story of the life of civilians in Italy during the war. It describes attempts as gallant as they are desperate to live normally, despite hunger and cold and bombs.

When the story shifts to the United States and to the beginning of Ms Hazan's unexpected career in cooking, the tone of being under siege continues. This is understandable; life as an expatriate is difficult, as I can attest. Unfortunately, the way this part of the story is told, it sounds a little bit like grumbling.

Even as good fortune begins to find Ms Hazan, there remains a sense of complaint and score-settling. I am sure that Ms Hazan and her editor and the publisher had reasons for bringing to print her grievances about a well-known editor. This woman rescued Ms Hazan's work from the obscurity to which her previous publisher had (perhaps inadvertently) consigned her work, but ultimately the match failed. Read all about it here! Names are named! Blame is assigned!
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