Marcella Hazan on being named one of the top cookbook authors of all time.

August 16, 2010

Thank you my dear Friends for your kind messages and your loyalty. It was enormously flattering to find my venerable cookbook – 37 years old this past spring – landing on the Guardian’s list as it did on a number of other lists, The Wall Street Journal’s 5 best, GQ’s 10 best, the Village Voice’s best cookbook ever, even among the 100 best ever chosen by a paper in David Downie’s hometown, Brisbane. It’s a peculiar feeling, similar perhaps to those of a mother’s whose little boy has become a movie star and won an Oscar. That book is still like a little boy to me. I wrote it without any knowledge of how one writes cookbooks, and puzzled that a publisher should have asked me to do it and been willing to pay me what seemed to me then the amazing sum of $2,500 plus $500 for groceries. The recipes were of the dishes that a woman who had never cooked in her life had managed to produce for her new husband. The kind of food that I was writing about seemed to be totally unfamiliar to anyone I spoke. Many of the ingredients I listed were not even available in any major market in a cosmopolitan city like New York. I look now at the food landscape in this and in other countries and as I gaze on the figure of Italian cooking that dominates that landscape, I say, omigosh!