Monday, July 5th, 2010

The goddess of Italian cookbooks in the U.S. is Marcella Hazan. She really changed my life. I was living alone and eating, well, not very healthily. A gift of a paperback edition of her first book started me on the road of Italian food and cooking that broadened into the love of so many things Italian (their crazy politics excepted). I well remember the first recipe that I cooked: “Thin Spaghetti with Anchovy and Tomato Sauce”. The ingredient list: garlic, olive oil, anchovies, parsley, canned tomatoes, salt, pepper and spaghettini. That’s it. So simple. So good. The perfect thing for the single cook to put together after a hard day at work. You can cook the sauce while the the water boils and the pasta cooks. A little wine for the cook and you’re set. Follow this link for the recipe with a little of my adaptations.

I had the good fortune to meet both Marcella and her husband Victor at a book signing at Market Hall in Oakland California in the fall of 2008. Marcella signed one of her first books for me but of course there was little time to talk since she was the star of the show. I did have a great talk with Victor during a break. Such a dapper and courtly gentleman. Below is a picture of them at the book signing table.

While his wife is extremely well known for her cookbooks, Victor wrote a lesser known but wonderful book on wine “Italian Wine” that was published in 1982. Since I lived close by I rushed home and got my copy for him to sign. We both agreed that the book was a bit out of date because Italian wine has evolved tremendously over the last 25 years. Still it is a wonderful book and I love his writing about wine. I found the photo below of them on what is purported to be their first date.  I see more of her there from the last photo than I do him. But he is a handsome devil isn’t he?

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