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'Amarcord: Marcella Remembers'

Marcella Hazan's memoir tells of her lasting marriage of love and cuisine.

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If your family enjoys a home-cooked “Italian night” at least once a week, you can probably thank Marcella Hazan. And if you are going to thank Hazan, be sure to thank her husband, too.

Hazan, considered by some as one of the most influential Italian cooks in the United States and Britain, has made certain, through six classic cookbooks and nearly four decades of classes, that her followers understand the taste of Italian cooking beyond spaghetti and meatballs.

And now Hazan has selected the best stories from her own life to present Amarcord: Marcella Remembers with all the warmth and humor of a long meal in famiglia made from the choicest ingredients.

Hazan never set out to have her name associated Italian cooking. Born in Egypt, her family resettled in her father’s native Italy, where her early teen years were overcome by World War II. Seeking refuge they fled to Lake Garda, which also turned out to be Mussolini’s headquarters. Bombings were a regular occurrence. Surviving those and finding enough food to eat dominated all else. (One barnyard chicken the family was trying to corner for dinner became the hapless victim of flying shrapnel.)

While terrifying encounters with soldiers and the stresses of war are sobering in these early chapters of her memoir, Hazan’s vigorous and entertaining tales from her youth are a delight to read. “[I]t was life,” she writes, “and I threw myself around it because I could not think past it.”

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