Italian cooking guru and author of Every Night Italian, How to Cook Italian and 30 Minute Pasta, 2009
Q. Giuliano, you are the only son of Marcella Hazan, the most famous Italian cookbook author in the world. You have spent over 20 years of your own adult life teaching and writing books on Italian cooking, the most recent of which is 30 Minute Pasta. What meal did you last eat with your family?
A. Fusilli with Yellow Squash and Grape Tomatoes from my latest book and a green salad with red peppers and thinly sliced raw fennel.
Q. In 30 Minute Pasta you use fresh tomatoes in your recipes. Can people substitute canned? If so, should they discard the excess juice?
A. There is a reason why all the recipes in my new book that have tomatoes call for fresh. It's because these are all sauces that are cooked quickly where the tomato provides a fresh lively flavor. I would substitute canned only when I am making a sauce that cooks longer, where I'm looking for the rich tomato flavor that only fresh tomatoes at the peak of their season provide. Do not discard the juice when using canned tomatoes.
Q. One theme both you and your mother discuss in your books is that good cooking should be simple home cooking that people return to again and again. To this end, does your mother still cook the recipes we all know from her books or have things changed after 40 years?
She most certainly does! I don't think our desire for simple, genuine flavors will ever go away.
Q. I was stunned to receive a personal email from your mother saying she would take a look at my modest blog. Such a gesture is unbelievably warm from someone of her stature and age. Is she as stern as she seems in her books? Did there reach a point in your own cooking when you had to shoo her out of the kitchen and say you wanted to do it your way?
A. My mother has never understood why people are intimidated by her. Of course one rarely is able to see how others see us. I do have my own way of doing things, but my mother likes how I cook and is just happy to have a nice meal she didn't have to cook.
Q. Does it irritate you personally when health professionals try and tell you what to eat, when Italy is known for its long lived, healthy eaters? It must have been particularly hard for your mother in the 1980s when the 'gurus' in all their wisdom were even against using olive oil.
A. Fads come and go, but ultimately it is good flavor that satisfies and I believe eating a varied diet in moderation is far more healthy than eliminating any one thing.
Q. Do you have meat broth in your fridge right now?
A. I've used it all up and it's time to make bollito misto!
Q. I think Marcella once said that the average Italian housewife would have a reassuringly small number of recipes in her repertoire. Do you think we over complicate family life by switching from cuisine to cuisine and always trying for something new?
A. It's changing what is good simply for the sake of creating something new that I don't agree with. Eating a variety of different cuisines is wonderful, however, and is usually what I look for when I go out.
Q. Was your grandmother a good cook? Marcella mentions her in her books, and you do in yours - did she in essence feed her family the way you and Marcella feed yours?
A. Both my grandmothers were good cooks. I guess it must be in the genes.
Q. Your first book - Classic Pasta Cookbook, was a smash hit, as was your Every Night Italian. Do you feel that your largest book - How to Cook Italian - didn't get the exposure it should have? Did this affect your approach with 30 Minute Pasta?
A. What affected my approach with my new book was the feedback I've received over the years from my readers and students. What most people wanted was being able to see a picture next to the recipe of how the dish should look like. After all, eye candy works!
Q. Does your family sit down for a traditional lunch or dinner each day? Is this something you have to really prioritize to make happen with modern demands and working mothers? Should more of us be doing it do you think?
A. Our family sits down to dinner together every day. It doesn't have to be a multi-course meal and it doesn't have to take a long time to prepare yet it is invaluable in strengthening family bonds. Making food to share with your family is one of the most loving things you can do.
AustralianBeers.com would like to thank Giuliano for taking the time to be interviewed and his excellent books Every Night Italian, How to Cook Italian and 30 Minute Pasta. You can read all about his books and his cooking classes (including in Italy!) at www.giulianohazan.com.
Giuliano the author
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