02 July 2016

Weekend Cooking: Ingredienti by Marcella Hazan

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Ingredienti by Marcella HazanI've noticed several new A to Z-type cooking references being published this year, and two in particular caught my eye. Today's Weekend Cooking is all about Marcella Hazan's Ingredienti. I'll talk about the second one next week.

Even if you haven't heard of Hazan before, I bet you've heard of her famous, simple pasta sauce. It's the one that incorporates butter. If you click on the link, you'll be taken to the New York Times site and the recipe for the deceptively simple three-ingredient sauce (see the photo from the NYT).

Anyway, I've always liked Hazan's down-to-earth approach to cooking the everyday food of her native Italy. When she died in 2013, I was sorry that we had lost her voice. Thus it was a true treat to discover that in the last years of her life, she had written Ingredienti, a guide to buying and using her favorite ingredients.

The heart of the book: Ingredienti is divided into four main parts--fruits and vegetables, pantry items, and pork--and ends with a guide to online sites if you want to mail order any of the ingredients you can't find at local markets. Note that the book does not include any recipes per se, but Hazan does provide cooking tips and describes the ways she incorporated the ingredients into her cooking.

Review: Ingredienti by Marcella HazanThe first section is a guide for buying, prepping, and storing Hazan's favorite fruits and vegetables. We learn, for example, that there are two common types of garlic and the difference between them. She talks about how she likes to prepare cauliflower, the best way to grill eggplant, how to choose a bell pepper, and so on.

Then Hazan turns to pantry items. Here, she talks about pasta, oils, vinegars, and herbs, including brand names and when to splurge on the best and when to save money. I learned a few surprising things in this section, such as which herbs are actually better to use dried instead of fresh.

The final section of Ingredienti focuses on pork, especially the famous Italian hams. I can't help but wonder if she had planned red meat, poultry, and fish chapters as well.

Not all facts: The text is filled with Hazan's personal stories. I love how her enthusiasm for cooking and eating really shines through. She talks about the food she ate when she first got married in the 1950s and foods she ate in grandmother's kitchen when she was a child. We also learn about how she adapted her ingredients when she and her husband moved to America. Ingredienti also covers some of the difference between U.S. and Italian tastes. The book is a true delight to read and is almost as much memoir as it a useful reference.

Two things to know:
  • Ingredienti was never meant to be comprehensive. It's a celebration of the foods Hazan loved and relied on and has a distinct Italian bias.
  • The book is filled with fantastic information and cooking ideas but you need to keep in mind that there are no actual recipes.
Recommendation: I loved Marcella Hazan's Ingredienti and am happy to give the book some shelf space (or, in my case, eBook space). Fans will enjoy the essays and having one last visit with the lovely Hazan. On the other hand, I totally understand that for many of you Ingredienti would be a library pick. In either case, I'm recommending Ingredienti as an informative kitchen guide and a quasi-memoir from a beloved cookbook writer.

Published by Scribner, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781451627367
Source: review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Mae Travels 7/2/16, 7:13 AM  

Marcella Hazan is one of the cookbook authors chosen for the summer dinner at the Ann Arbor Culinary Historians this summer. Though I had read her autobiography (sounds like some of the same material you mentioned) I didn't own a cookbook by her, so I just bought "Marcella Cucina" this week: an actual hardcover edition, used. Now I have to pick a recipe to practice and then bring to the dinner. I think both books sound very good -- yours and mine!

Best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

bermudaonion 7/2/16, 7:20 AM  

I'm not familiar with her or her famous recipe but I do love cookbooks that include personal stories.

Unknown 7/2/16, 7:24 AM  

I hadn't heard of her tomato sauce before - have to look into that. It sounds like an interesting book, glad you pointed out that it's not a recipe book, as I'm sure some would think it was.

Tina 7/2/16, 8:12 AM  

I haven't looked at a Marcella Hazen cookbook in years but I loved one I had before, I had her book Marcella's Italian Kitchen and loaned it out, never got it back. That's so frustrating. If you google her name the sauce comes up as option straightaway. Good stuff. Thanks for highlighting this book.

Molly 7/2/16, 8:29 AM  

This sounds like a fabulous book to not only use In the kitchen, but to read as a memoir.

Jackie McGuinness 7/2/16, 8:58 AM  

Just looked at her 3 ingredient sauce and I have pinned it to try.

rhapsodyinbooks 7/2/16, 10:02 AM  

I love cookbooks that include personal stories!

Katherine P 7/2/16, 10:37 AM  

This sounds interesting. I love the guide for picking ingredients and with all the personal touches it sounds like a lovely book.

Anonymous,  7/2/16, 11:18 AM  

This sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to add a copy to my wishlist.

Deb in Hawaii 7/2/16, 11:48 AM  

Such a treasure Marcella Hazan was, and that incredible tomato sauce recipe which really is simple but sublime, with good tomatoes. I only have Marcella Cucina, bought years ago (so many wonderful reliable recipes), out of her books but I saw this one and wanted to look into it. (BTW: I think it is on a giveaway at Goodreads too right now.) Thank you for the great review.

Another two book review and recipe week for me, so I linked up two posts.
Happy July 4th weekend! ;-)

Claudia 7/2/16, 12:45 PM  

I'm sorry to say that I've never made the acquaintance of Marcella Hazan, through her cookbooks or otherwise; and what a shame that sometimes it's only after a person is gone that we discover them. Many fiction authors and artists/poets are in that category. Will have to be remedied.

Cecelia 7/2/16, 2:50 PM  

Hazan is famous! I had no idea that this book existed, but it sounds like a good gift option for a few of my friends who adore Italian cuisine. Thanks for sharing!

Mae Travels 7/2/16, 3:13 PM  

I am reluctant to add a third link to the list, but I did just make lunch from my new Marcella Hazan cookbook and blogged it: http://maefood.blogspot.com/2016/07/marcella-cucina-great-book.html

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Nan 7/2/16, 4:09 PM  

This sounds just perfect, and I'll be buying it in a print version. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Esme 7/2/16, 7:08 PM  

I have never heard of her-however I am going to check this out. Happy July 4th!!!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 7/3/16, 8:12 AM  

I personally enjoy books like that, as reading material. Not one to read many novels, but give me a cookbook and let me have at it. I especially enjoy learning from another's perspective, experience and even their opinions. All her books I have opened have been great, I need to search this one out.

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