Friday, February 13, 2009

January Reading: II

Amarcord: Marcella Remembers is the autobiography of Italian cooking diva Marcella Hazan. I'm a big fan of her cookbooks and it was fascinating to learn how the woman who studied to be a scientist ended up introducing America to the wonders of Italian food. Her memoir addresses the full chronology of her life: early childhood in Egypt, struggling through World War II and growing into adulthood in Cesenatico in Italy, falling in love and marrying Victor Hazan, and ping-ponging between America and Italy as her culinary life developed. Her descriptions of living in Venice are lovely.

Once Hazan begins to write about her success in teaching and writing, the reader definitely gets the sense that she is a tough woman. She admits to having the reputation of being difficult with her students. Hazan provides an unvarnished account of her conflicts and falling-out with her editor and spares no ones' feelings in the process.

Without question, Hazan has consistently displayed great creativity, resourcefulness and bravura, long accompanied and supported by Victor. However, in the final analysis, she just doesn't seem happy. That lack is not explicit in her writing but the final chapters of the book left me wishing she could find more joy in reflecting on a life well lived.

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