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For the uninitiated, the beautiful culinary world of Marcella Hazan might best be described as such: Marcella Hazan is to Italian cooking what Julia Child is to French cuisine. Except that Marcella is the real Italian deal. Born in Cesenatico, a fishing village on the Adriatic in Emilia-Romagna, her recipes make the kinds of perfect, simple, exquisite meals that you return to again and again. Her instructions are beautiful and evocative ("stir frequently until the onion is pale gold and sautee until the garlic until it becomes deep gold color") and the dishes become immediate favorites. Full disclosure: this beloved book will lose its pristine look very quickly. The more sauce splatters, the better in our opinion.