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Amarcord: Marcella Remembers Paperback – 6 Oct 2009

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Amarcord: Marcella Remembers + Marcella Says...: Italian Cooking Wisdom from the Legendary Teacher's Master Classes, with 120 of Her Irresistible New Recipes
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Product details

  • Paperback: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham Books (6 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592404898
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592404896
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,026,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amarcord Bestselling cookbook author Hazan tells how a young girl raised in Emilia-Romagna became America's godmother of Italian cooking. Widely credited with introducing proper Italian food to the English-speaking world, Hazan looks back on the adventures of her life. Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Wemyss on 11 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've long been a fan of Marcella Hazan's books. Her recipes are easy to follow and her 'no nonsense' approach is refreshing compared to many of the more recent cookery writers. Following her recent death, I found this book and decided to read about her life. Marcella's husband, Victor, was her translator as she had never felt comfortable using English, it being her second language. This couple obviously had an amazing rapport, which shines through in this book. The relationship between the couple is drawn beautifully well.
I found the early chapters about Marcella's life in Italy during the thirties,forties and fifties the most interesting, though the circumstances leading up to her becoming a cookery writer were also very interesting and amusing. The middle part of the book that concentrates on her life as a writer and teacher of Italian cooking were a little long-winded and I got a bit bored with the endless meetings with publishers and designers. She had some interesting fans and sections about her encounters with Danny Kaye and Sir Norman Foster are very funny.
Marcella had a remarkable life and I would recommend this book to anyone who has used her books and loves them as I do, in order to get an insight into the woman and her career.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Fond Memoir of a Charmed (and Tasty) Life 29 Jan. 2009
By J Allegretti - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found Hazan's book to be one of the most entertaining "foodie" memoirs that I've read. It was a page turner that kept me interested throughout: from her fond descriptions of childhood in Italy through to the end of her teaching career in the magical city of Venice and sweet retirement on the beach in Florida.

Even though I've been a great aficionado of cooking and was aware of several media and publishing personalities, I had somehow not heard of Hazan until recent years. Thus, this memoir was perfect as an in depth introduction to this admirable woman for me. I found the tone completely sincere, frank, and heartfelt. It also made me laugh many times.

I can understand a bit of the previous reviewer's gripe, but I personally didn't find Hazan overly bitter, unhappy, or full of complaint. As I said, she's frank and forthright and speaks her mind even when it seems to verge on being indiscreet (as anyone who has met certain Italian women can attest they do very well!). Mistakes: she's made a few. Regrets: she has a few. Slights: she's felt the sting of a few. However, for me Hazan's love of life, of the many paths on which it has taken her, and above all of GOOD FOOD really shines through. I'm eager to seek out some of her cookbooks.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
who are fans of Hazan's cookbooks, and who like autobiographies, will relish this story 15 Dec. 2008
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Marcella Hazan has been credited with introducing Italian food to the English-speaking world, but until now she's received relatively little attention for her personal life. Her memoir begins in Egypt, where she spent her early childhood, follows her unexpected journey back to family roots in Italy at a young age, and follows her initial ambition to become doctor and professor of science before she marries, moves to America, and began taking cooking lessons to re-create the taste of her homeland. Any who are fans of Hazan's cookbooks, and who like autobiographies, will relish this story of how she evolved to become a world-class cook and teacher.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
An interesting life story, with lashings of score settling 9 Jan. 2009
By Patricia Tryon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Bona fide Marcella Hazan fans -- those who admire not just her habits of cooking, but also her approach to teaching and, in a general sense, to life -- should probably ignore this review and hit "one click" to buy right away. There's a good deal of detail here: no actual recipes, but plenty of cook-talk about ingredients and methods. I think you'll love it; read the book and don't bother with this review.

In general, I enjoy reading about cooks and especially about the movement that began in the mid-20th century to rescue American cooks from frozen dinners and other "convenience" foods. So this book should have been a slam dunk for me and, indeed, I enjoyed its beginning.

Ms Hazan tells a detailed, harrowing story about life in Italy during World War II. I valued this section of the book for its first person story of the life of civilians in Italy during the war. It describes attempts as gallant as they are desperate to live normally, despite hunger and cold and bombs.

When the story shifts to the United States and to the beginning of Ms Hazan's unexpected career in cooking, the tone of being under siege continues. This is understandable; life as an expatriate is difficult, as I can attest. Unfortunately, the way this part of the story is told, it sounds a little bit like grumbling.

Even as good fortune begins to find Ms Hazan, there remains a sense of complaint and score-settling. I am sure that Ms Hazan and her editor and the publisher had reasons for bringing to print her grievances about a well-known editor. This woman rescued Ms Hazan's work from the obscurity to which her previous publisher had (perhaps inadvertently) consigned her work, but ultimately the match failed. Read all about it here! Names are named! Blame is assigned!

All right, that last bit from me was a little sarcastic, and that is not entirely fair when an author lays open her heart. But, honestly, by the time I soldiered through to the last page, I had grown weary of what had settled into a chronicle of the various ill-treatments suffered. It seemed that at least some of the disappointments resulted from poor or at least very naive judgment. I also found I disliked intensely the accounting given of her various encounters with celebrities.

This book has the same title as an elegiac Fellini film. Ms Hazan writes about this in a way that seems almost dismissive of a film that tells a story far more subtle than this one. Her choice of title almost evokes parody, except that it is more than clear that Ms Hazan takes herself very, very seriously.

A facile but not inaccurate summary: life started hard, got quite lucky, but unfortunately didn't work out very well (i.e., I think the reader is meant to infer that, for all her fame, Ms Hazan is next to penniless). Thus, I recommend the first part of the book, hesitate about the second, and would not bother with the last.

When reviewing an autobiography, I find it impossible to tease apart a critique of a book from what is inevitably a response to a person. I imagine that people who like Ms Hazan will like this book. Perhaps people who do not like her will also like the book, but for different reasons. People like me who do not know her might not find the book worth the investment of time and money.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bravo Marcella 29 Jan. 2009
By Liz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Marcella's cookbooks (her Roast Chickens with Lemons is one of the best and easiest recipes I have ever cooked) and I enjoyed her autobiography. It was interesting to learn how she happened upon her illustrious cooking career. I enjoyed her funny anecdotes, especially the one about the call from her son's school in which she was told that they hoped she was making progress in learning how to cook. I found it refreshing that she also shared some of her failures and regrets. As a cook who will never have the tremendous success of writing a best-selling cookbook, it was nice to know that even best-selling cookbook authors can have failures too. I appreciated her candor about some of her professional relationships that did not work out. I did not find it to be "sour grapes." Relationships do not always work out. That's life, and apparently it happens to successful cooks and authors too.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Marcella Remembers ... the good, the boring, and the bad 13 Dec. 2009
By Julie D. - Published on
Format: Paperback
It is really too bad that Ms. Hazan didn't have a talented grandnephew to write Amarcord as did Julia Child in her fantastic memoir, My Life in France. As with Child's memoir, when Hazan focuses on the big picture, not just the food, it is very interesting. I didn't expect Hazan's many fascinating memories of survival in Italy during World War II, first from Allied bombings and then from authorities who suspected them of assisting the resistance. Hazan's reminiscence of school and her mother's survival cooking took us to a different world than now exists. Likewise, after Hazan has married her American-born husband and moves to New York City as a non-English speaker, we are still interested in her immigrant experience.

The bad news is that once Hazan has a food-oriented career, the big picture melts away and only food becomes the focus. As well, she tends to focus on the celebrities she has met and I found most of those stories to be fairly boring. I was especially put off by the way she justified her final break with Knopf by entering her book that compiled old recipes into an awards program designed to honor new books over the publisher's protests. She seemed to think that the fact that her cookbook won was justification enough when all it proved was that her celebrity made others overlook what the publisher very properly recognized: it was an old cookbook in new format. This perhaps typifies my biggest problem with the last half to third of the book which is that Hazan takes on a slightly complaining tone about most things which I found annoying.

This is not to say that Marcella Hazan fans will not love the book, and she does indeed have many fans. To be fair, I did not come to this book with strong feelings one way or the other about Marcella Hazan. I have her Essentials of Italian Cooking as who does not who was buying cookbooks in the 1990s. It never inspired me to do much Italian cooking although the recipes I used from it were uniformly excellent. I like a bit more personality with my cookbooks and I think that is part of my problem with this book. Hazan didn't have the advantage of a talented writer to back her up as I mentioned earlier that Julia Child did. It is hard to fault her for not being a riveting autobiography writer. However, as we can see from the beginning of the book, it is possible for her to write interestingly when she has the material. Perhaps the fault here is in the eyes of the editors who did not redirect Hazan so that her reflections about her career were not as myopic as they seemed to me.

Recommended with the caveat that one is a Marcella Hazan fan.

If one is not a Hazen fan, I can definitely recommend the first half of the book. As for the second half, that depends upon the taste of each reader, I have a feeling.
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