Hazan was born in 1924 in the village of Cesenatico in Emilia-Romagna. She earned a doctorate in natural sciences and biology from the University of Ferrara. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born, New York-raised Sephardic Jew who subsequently gained fame as a wine writer, and the couple moved to New York City a few months later.Hazan had never cooked before her marriage. As she recounted in the introduction to her 1997 book Marcella Cucina, ‘… there I was, having to feed a young, hard-working husband who could deal cheerfully with most of life’s ups and downs, but not with an indifferent meal. In Italy, I would not have wasted time thinking about it. My mother cooked, my father cooked, both my grandmothers cooked, even the farm girls who came in to clean could cook. In the kitchen of my New York apartment there was no one.’ She began by using cookbooks from Italy, but then realised that she had an exceptionally clear memory of the flavours she had tasted at home and found it easy to reproduce them herself. ‘Eventually I learned that some of the methods I adopted were idiosyncratically my own,’ she recalled, ‘but for most of them I found corroboration in the practices of traditional Italian cooks.’Hazan began giving cooking lessons in her apartment, and opened her own cooking school, The School of Classic Italian Cooking, in 1969. In the early 1970s, Craig Claiborne, who was then the food editor of the New York Times, asked her to contribute recipes to the paper. She published her first book, The Classic Italian Cook Book, in 1973. In 1980, having been published in a version adapted for a British readership by Anna Del Conte, it won an André Simon Award. A sequel, More Classic Italian Cooking, followed in 1978; the two were collected in one volume, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, in 1992. In 1997 Marcella Cucina won the James Beard Best Mediterranean Cookbook award and the Julia Child Award for Best International Cookbook.Hazan’s cookbooks concentrate on strictly traditional Italian cookery without American or British influence. Her recipes tend to use only ingredients that would actually be used in Italian kitchens (with some concessions for ingredients that are not readily available outside Italy). They are also designed to fit into an Italian menu of two balanced ‘principal courses’ followed by a salad and dessert.Hazan’s recipes emphasise careful attention to detail. She recommends preparing food by hand rather than by machine, and prefers the stovetop to the oven because it allows the cook to engage more fully with the food. However, her recipes are not necessarily complicated: One of the most popular consists simply of a chicken roasted with two lemons in its c E11
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