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Eat, Memory

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When I think of Marcella Hazan, the diva of Italian home cooking, I think how stubborn she is, how confident of her mission, how cranky she can be—coughing away over her cigarette—and how generous. I never got to her master classes in Venice, but I got an early taste of her voice—a private class in handmade pasta in her tiny Manhattan kitchen in the seventies, before fresh pasta hit New York. She had just won raves for her Classic Italian Cookbook. Now, looking at her latest, Marcella Says . . . (HarperCollins; $29.95), I realize that no recipe of Marcella’s has ever failed me. With a fidelity that is rare in a world mad for style and fusion, Marcella champions pure Italian simplicity, as in a mussel soup from Sardinia with its odd touch of grated pecorino. Now in her Southwest Florida supermarket, Savoy cabbage inspires her. I can’t wait to try it simply baked with Parmesan cheese, or with pan-roasted lamb shanks and sun-dried tomatoes. I imagine Marcella and her unfailing Victor eating their way through the creation of this intimate valedictory. I’m eager to wade in, too.


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