HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH INGREDIENTS - Ingredienti: Marcella's Guide to the Market - Marcella Hazan, Victor Hazan

Ingredienti: Marcella's Guide to the Market - Marcella Hazan, Victor Hazan (2016)


Marcella Hazan

A few months after Victor and I were married, we moved from my hometown of Cesenatico, in Emilia-Romagna, to New York. My husband began to work in his family’s business in the city; I stayed at home and began to cook. I had trained for a teaching career in science. Cooking was something I was doing for the first time. I was doing it in a place far from my own family and friends, stumbling over a language I had never before spoken, shopping in markets whose products were baffling to me.

I had an Italian cookbook, and a few recipes that my mother had sketched out for me. They did not, however, open the door to where I needed to go. It wasn’t to cooking methods that I directed most of my thoughts in the kitchen. Common sense and a few trials quickly made those clear to me. The ultimate object of my attention wasn’t the pot on the stove as much as the food at the table. What interested me was taste. I searched my memory for the flavors, textures, and scents of the food I had grown up with in Italy. Once I could bring the taste of a dish into focus, I was able to choose the ingredients that were most congenial to that taste. Or, vice versa, if I found myself drawn to an ingredient that I found in the market, I let it suggest the dish I could make with it.

Cooking had quickly developed into an important part of my husband’s life and mine, and my relationship with ingredients became a close one. I thought about them, even when I wasn’t shopping for them. I thought about their ­fragrance, their color, their texture, their flavor. In the ­market, I loved to pick them up, which I would not have been permitted to do at any produce stall in Italy, inspect them, test their firmness, admire their freshness, smell them.

There have been no more satisfying times in my life than those that I have spent in a food market, wherever in the world I have been. The colors, shapes, and fragrances that drew me to the stalls aroused thoughts upon thoughts of the pleasures I might bring out of my kitchen. In my mind, I have conceived more dishes in an hour or two in the market than I could ever have produced in any one mealtime at home.

Looking for ingredients should be more deliberate than dropping them into your basket and checking them off a shopping list. Think of this book as a collection of portraits. Each wants to be a description of character. Become familiar with them, establish a connection, and allow them to guide you to making food that you enjoy and will be pleased to share.