The only cuisine that deserves to be called Italian cooking, writes Hazan by way of introduction to this celebrated 1992 title, is la cucina di casa: “there are no high or low roads in Italian cuisine. All roads lead to the home.” And it is how she then proceeds to unpick the fundamentals – to map out the way home, if you will – that sets the book apart. Starting with the triumvirate of Italian technique – battuto, soffritto and insaporire, which build flavour from the bottom up – she goes on to list the contents of the Italian pantry, before taking you through the various stages on a menu. Her chapter on soups, for example, opens with the idea that “A vegetable soup can tell you where you are in Italy, almost as precisely as a map.” Through eloquent prose and piercing insight, Hazan manages to unlock her country’s soul.
Clams vary in brininess and the amount of liquid they’ll release during cooking, so you’ll need to adjust the salt and add pasta water accordingly. To prevent the sauce from getting too salty, we recommend a measured amount of salt for the pasta water. If possible, look for an artisanal dried pasta for this recipe—the rougher surface texture will catch the slippery sauce better.