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Remembering the queen of la bella cucina

October 3rd, 2013
08:26 AM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Imagine a world where one remarkable woman set the dining room table, and the tastes, for millions of Italian food lovers.

Marcella Hazan may not be as famous as Julia Child, but her influence – as chef, teacher and author – may be even greater; not only in her adopted country of America, but throughout the world.

Before she came onto the scene, most Americans thoughts of Italian food the way it was portrayed in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp: Spaghetti and meatballs on a red checked tablecloth, adorably shared one bella notte.

Or else they bought Italian food pre-packaged in boxes and cans, as hawked on TV by Chef Boyardee.

Marcella Hazan changed all that with the publication of "the classic italian cookbook" in 1973. She emphasized natural ingredients, simple recipes

Over the next 40 years, a kitchenfull of acolytes, like super-chief Mario Batali, would follow in her footsteps, stirring the pot with delicious ragus.

And even the glamorous Italian superstar Sophia Loren would join the celebration of la bella cuchina, showing off her pasta-making skills and even writing her own cookbook.

Marcella Hazan died this past weekend at the age of 89. She leaves behind pages of well-loved cookbooks splattered with her sauce Bolognese.

And her gift of great Italian food is on the tip of the tongue of people who never knew her name.

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