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Marcella Hazan, Italian Culinary Legend, Dies at 89

Marcella Hazan
Marcella Hazan
Giorgio Molinari

If you did not spend yesterday making Marcella Hazan's glorious Bolognese sauce, or any number of the beloved Italian cookbook author's many, many beautiful recipes, maybe you should have. Yesterday morning the news spread, first on Facebook and then on Twitter and in blogs and wire reports and newspapers, like news under and over and through available windows and doors, that Hazan had died, at the age of 89, at her home in Longboat Key, Fla.

"Marcella, my incomparable companion, died this morning a few steps away from her bed. She was the truest and the best, and so was her food," Hazan's husband, Victor, posted on his wife's Facebook page on Sunday morning.

It didn't take long for the floodgates to open with tributes and remembrances, eulogies somehow fitting for a peaceful Sunday morning, when so many of us were getting up to walk into our kitchens to make breakfast or begin the day's cooking, and where so many of us have one or more or many more of Hazan's cookbooks like old, sauce-stained friends.

Hazan was largely responsible for introducing traditional Italian cooking to chefs and home cooks alike over the course of her long career. She wrote six cookbooks, including Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, required reading if ever there was such a thing, which, along with all of her cookbooks, was written by Hazan in her native Italian and translated into English by Victor Hazan, her husband of 57 years.

According to her obituary yesterday from the Associated Press, Hazan was born Marcella Pollini in 1924 in Cesenatico, Italy. Hazan earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology and didn't begin her culinary career until she and her husband moved to the United States, took a cooking class -- and ended up teaching it instead. And the rest, as they say, is history. As of yesterday, it's truly history.

Hazan will be tremendously missed, by those who knew her and by those who knew her only through her glorious food. Maybe you should go now. Go and cook something for friends and family in her honor. Hazan probably would have approved.

See also: Marcella Hazan, 1924 - 2013: A Letter From Italy


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