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Amarcord: Marcella Remembers

3.45  ·  Rating Details  ·  241 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Widely credited with introducing proper Italian food to the English-speaking world, Marcella Hazan is known as America's godmother of Italian cooking. Raised in Cesenatico, a quiet fishing town on the northern Adriatic Sea, she'd eventually have her own cooking schools in New York, Bologna, and Venice, where she would teach students from around the world to appreciate - an ...more
Hardcover, Large print, 453 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Thorndike Press (first published September 30th 2008)
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Feb 05, 2016 G.G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Marcella Hazan's journey from Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast of Italy via Alexandria in Egypt to New York is fascinating to read about. Most surprising was her confession that when, newly married, she arrived in America, she "had never cooked anything, save for the mush I made for our pig during the war...." (p. 72) Her husband Victor "pulled out his old copy of Ada Boni," and as Hazan leafed through it, she was "awakened by sensations from another time and other places. I saw, I smelled, I ta ...more
Oct 10, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this memoir by talented, opinionated, entrepreneurial, tenacious Signora Hazan. I was fascinated to read about her family history (and so also some history of Italy), her travels with husband and their various homes in Italy, and her interests, which were not limited to Italian cooking, naturally.

Her enthusiasm for meals as memorable as they are simple and her insistence on teaching others to cook good, unpretentious Italian food are both inspiring. I suspect that her frequent squabbles
Julie Davis
Average. Too bad Ms. Hazen didn't have a talented grandnephew to write this as did Julia Child in her fantastic memoir, My Life in France. The beginning of the book is interesting as it is filled with memories of life in Italy during WWII, moving to New York as a nonEnglish speaker, and suchlike. However, once her career becomes food oriented the pace and interest level slows way down. I was especially put off by the way she justified her final break with Knopf by entering her book that compiled ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Janyne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judy-s-books, memoir
The first section of this book was very interesting. I enjoyed reading about Marcella's journey from Egypt to Milan and reading about her time at Lake Garda during World War II. She has some very interesting stories to share, especially the one about the skeleton.

The last 2/3 of the book involved a lot of self serving name dropping and that was considerably less enjoyable. The book became a slog to read. The low point was when she devoted an entire chapter to a child-like criticism of famed foo
Oct 16, 2011 Marji rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I really enjoyed this book, but I love cooking and have been cooking from her cookbooks since the 1980's. That said, I agree with the other reviewers that liked the first half better than the second half, and agree that this could have been so much better. She writes a good cookbook, she would have done well to enlist the aid of a ghost writer to write her memoirs. It was very interesting reading about the advent of destination cooking courses, which are quite common now but when Marce ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Nica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light and fun read. Loved learning about Ms Hazan's life story -- where she grow up, food memories, family stories, falling in love. The second half of the book got a little monotonous.

The second half of the book has story after story about her teaching in New York, Venice, Bologna, various entrepreneurial pursuits of the Hazans, and one-off teaching assignments in South Africa and Hong Kong. You learn about every domicile the Hazans lived in. Lots of detail about her business including storie
Dec 26, 2008 Bibliovixen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: highly-recommend
As the author says, this is more a book of memories and remembrance than an autobiography. A thoroughly enjoyable read of her travels from Italy to the US, of the woman many of us look to teach us classic Italian cuisine.
Apr 12, 2014 Trina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating memoir of the life of Marcella Hazan. I especially enjoyed the stories of pre war Italy. She had a long and eventful life. If you've used her cookbooks you'll love this.
Jul 24, 2015 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charming ... JUST as I expected. Not a lot of insight into this or that; I guess one can read between the lines and if one is a following-fan of Marcella who knows something about her personality, etc (vs her wonderful COOKING philosophy) those references in the book probably meant more.

For me, it was enough to follow her through her travels and to read again and again about the glories of my dear Italy and its food and produce vs our very washed out (STILL in 2015) produce... I had a good time
Barbara VA
I really enjoyed this book! I just came back from a trip to Tuscany and her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking has become my bible, much to the happiness of my family. I wondered why with so many reprints it had not been updated to a more contemporary look, now I know. I loved reading about how she became a cook for her family in New York. I live in Virginia and even today with the new gourmet grocery stores, like Wegman's, it is hard to find all the right ingredients. I remember a trip to F ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer by:
Shelves: 2012
A housemate of mine was getting her PhD in science. "What do you want to do when you finish school?" we would ask. "Get married, have babies, and bake cakes." "And you need a PhD for that?"

I know we aren't to judge a book by the cover, but I'm failing to see how she left this science career and taught America how to cook Italian food. I see that she got some good degrees and didn't really make it in Science for a variety of reasons. Reading the book it seems that other than a handful of people
Nov 21, 2009 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hazan recalls her life, from its beginning in Cesenatico, a fishing village in Italy, to marrying her husband, moving to New York and stumbling into a cooking career, born of their love of the Italian extended lunch.

I listened to this on CD and loved it -- there's nothing better than hearing how someone followed their passion (in this case inadvertently -- her initial training was as a scientist) and created a wonderful life, from New York City to Bologna to Venice. I wish I could have attended
I didn't quite finish this book before returning it to the library, but I doubt I'll go back to finish it, so I'm marking it "read," by which I mean as read as it's going to be.
My dad loves his Marcella Hazan cookbooks; in a family as food obsessed as mine, she's almost the Italian matriarch we Dutch-British Rowleys never actually had. So it is perhaps fitting that this book reads like a conversation with your sort of self-involved grandma -- it's not that she didn't lead an interesting life, it
Jan 29, 2016 Catie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like many other reviewers I enjoyed the first section of the book, before her move to America, but found the rest difficult to wade through. I liked her descriptions of cooking and eating in Italy but had to push through after the first 75 pages or so.
I wish someone else would read this book. I got bogged down about 2/3 of the way through, because, although I think her life, epsecially the earlier years, was fascinating, I started to be irritated by the detailed memories she holds about people who did her wrong in one way or another. There was too much of a complaining tone for me. I wonder what the gossip is about her in the foodie world. Anyway, won't someone else read this book and tell me if I am being too hard on Marcella? I will try to ...more
Mar 09, 2014 Randall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Wonderful autobiography of a self taught cook who went from a war time bride in Italy to the Muse of Italian cooking in America. Definitely entertaining for those who love cooking and love Italian Food.
Oct 06, 2010 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a worshipper of all things Italian and a frequent user of Hazan's cookbooks, I found this memoir inviting, with its glimpses into Italian food and culture. The ending, however, was disappointingly abrupt. Hazan's move from Venice to Florida was occasioned by necessity (Venice is apparently hard to get around for those who are less mobile) but even so, I would have appreciated a half chapter about the adjustment to life in Florida and whether there are emotional compensations for the loss of a ...more
Jan 01, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: strong, memoirs
I adored this book. The interesting part is, I'd never heard of Marcella Hazan's name before discovering her memoirs. The first half was written fantastically and while the second-half did include some pretty heavy name-dropping, the narrative still flowed interestingly enough to hold my attention until the end. Her portraits of Italian life and cooking are something I'd frame on my wall and her descriptions are amazing. I would highly recommend this book for anyone seeking a combination of hist ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Marcella
This was an interesting quick read, but was not compelling literature.

The most interesting issues were hinted at and not really discussed:
a) How much of the cooking passion and school was from Marcella and how much was her husband, Victor?
b) What really was the relationship between Victor and Marcella?
c) What happened with their relationships with their parents and their son?
d) What really was going on with various friendships and relationships in the cooking and publishing world?

If you want to
A trip to Italy and Marcella Hazan changed my life. She is to Italian cooking what Julie Child was to French, known as "The Godmother." Amarcord is strangely unsatisfying, perhaps because she's not speaking in her native tongue. I've come away with no sense of how awful it must have been to grow up in war-torn Italy, how wonderful to find a soulmate like Victor Hazan and a son who has followed her footsteps, how fabulous to be a globetrotting celebrity and how heartbreaking to have to move from ...more
Enjoyed reading about Marcella's life and her cooking life. Marcella's Italian cookbooks are still my first Italian reference cookbook.
Jan 13, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone into food, especially Italian cuisine, very interesting. But, what is unsaid as much as what it said makes it intriguing
Feb 05, 2015 Susanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Nice diversion. Nothing special. Might be of interest to those who have her excellent cookbooks.
Jan 23, 2009 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-cooking
Marcella Hazan is considered the Julia Child of Italian cooking having introduced it in her cookbooks in the late 70s. She is less well known than other celebrity chefs and the book gives great insight into her humble beginnings. Its also a good story about how an immigrant who did not know the language, and lived most of her adult life in Italy, could still make a place for herself in America. She is rather "confident" about her contributions to the American cooking and food scene and I have no ...more
Jun 18, 2014 Dina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
What a beautiful testament to the benefits of having two spouses who support each other.
Aug 26, 2009 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very personal memoir of interest to anyone who lived through the 80s and 90s when good food was serious for the first time and we were all learning to cook well and explore new cuisine at home. She should have titled her books..."more than tomato sauce" because we were all so naive and she introduced a new vision of Italian food you could not get in a restaurant. Marcella's cookbooks saved marriages. The behind the scenes view answers some questions I had - most mostly the "entertainment tonig ...more
Pat Borghesan
I am a foodie so I thought I would love this book. Even though a big fan, I felt it would have benefited from more editing. Marcella Hazan's early life is very interesting as are the war years and her first years in America. The first cooking class reminded me of my own experience with 5 other women traveling to someone's house for instruction and lunch very on target, very genuine. Once she gets successful, it was harder to keep going. I did finish it and realize I never want to be a chef.
Dec 11, 2008 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-related
what to say- well, I know I'd heard her name before, but had no idea why. While I usually am not a big autobiography fan, this was a very interesting story where the writer interjected herself but not in a n off-putting way, so it worked.
She lived a very interesting life, and makes me want to explore my Italian roots even more! and the old pictures of celebrities that took her classes or gave her awards (Wolfgang Puck 25 years ago was a hoot!) were nice little treats intermixed.
Nov 02, 2009 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies
Nice read - no recipes, but lots on food. Fun that she "pays back" some slights in her life, and even takes time to complain of her grumpy servant of 12 years! Boy, the moves she made to keep her husband happy. the first 60-70 pp on her earlier Italian life are the best part, as is the part on her later life in Venice. A nice read, but she is not all "sweetness and light" - which makes it even better. And not afraid to "toot her own horn" either!
Nov 30, 2008 Belle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure Marcella's life was going to be interesting enough to read about but Amarcord quite well written and engaging. There were a few stories that I'd love to hear the other side of - maybe just knowing Marcella's reputation leads me to think that some of these stores are a little slanted.

How i would have LOVED to take a class with her. The queen of Italian cooking. I wonder if she would have scolded me too.
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Born in 1924 in Italy, she later moved in New York where she founded a cooking school specialized in traditional Italian cooking. She published her first cooking book, The Classic Italian Cook Book, in 1973.
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