When Marcella Hazan died in 2013, the legendary cookbook author left us with a short stack of books, most notably her “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” (also legendary), and a legacy. Born in Emilia-Romagna in 1924, Hazan pretty much introduced America to traditional Italian home cooking. She also left her husband (of nearly six decades) and collaborator Victor a collection of notebooks, filled with handwritten pages, in Italian, about the ingredients she’d used over her long career. Artichokes and onions, tomatoes and zucchini, lard and pancetta and salt. Victor translated those notes and made them into a final book, called “Ingredienti,” — a kind of posthumous grocery list.
It is, unsurprisingly, a wonderful, practical and deeply poignant book, with simple pale green illustrations (rapini, a truffle slicer) by Karin Kretschmann Lubart. “Think of this book as a collection of portraits,” Marcella Hazan wrote in her introduction, and what follows is exactly that: sketches of vegetables and other produce, basic pantry items and salumi, like tasting notes. These are chatty and pragmatic (on arugula: “find a forager”), the perfect retroactive companion to her cookbooks. “Ingredienti” is also laced with occasional asides from Victor, which come like beautiful footnotes to their long life together, as well as functioning as a kind of coda to that brilliant legacy: “In the last week of her life, Marcella prepped an entire box of baby artichokes. They are in the refrigerator in a glass jar where they are to remain.”
Cookbook of the Week: “Ingredienti” by Marcella Hazan and Victor Hazan (Scribner, $20).