LONGBOAT KEY — Marcella Hazan, the Italian-born cookbook author who taught generations of Americans how to create simple, fresh Italian food, died Sunday. She was 89.
She died at her home in Florida, according to an email from her son, Giuliano Hazan, and posts on Facebook and Twitter from her husband and daughter-in-law.
Ms. Hazan was best known for her six cookbooks, which were written by her in Italian and translated into English by Victor, her husband of 57 years. The recipes were traditional, tasty and sparse — her famous tomato sauce contained only tomatoes, onion, butter and salt — and mirrored the tastes of her home country, where importance is placed on the freshness of food, rather than the whiz-bang recipes inside a chef's mind.
She eschewed the American-style Italian food that suffocated mushy pasta in grainy meatballs and tasteless cheese. She begged home cooks to use more salt and once wrote that if readers were concerned about salt affecting one's life expectancy, to "not read any further." On the topic of garlic, Ms. Hazan took a sharp view.
"The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking," she wrote in her 2004 cookbook Marcella Says ... "It must remain a shadowy background presence. It cannot take over the show."
It was Ms. Hazan's 1973 cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, that led gourmands to compare her and another larger-than-life cookbook author: Julia Child. The two were longtime friends.
In the late 1990s, she and her husband retired to Longboat Key. In 2000, Ms. Hazan was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.