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Actor Stanley Tucci became America’s favorite foodie thanks to his travel/cooking series on CNN. His memoir, “Taste,” gives fans even more to love. Photo from IMDB

Stanley Tucci’s ‘Taste’ Explores Connections Through Cuisine

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In that hypothetical game where I’m asked whom I’d love to host for dinner, Stanley Tucci remains firmly at the top of my guest list. I’ve always admired people with passion — particularly those whose passions awaken in the kitchen — and Tucci embodies passion as a connoisseur of cuisine, an enthusiastic explorer of the powerful connections created through food and its preparation.

I was given a taste of Tucci’s passion last winter when his documentary series, “Searching for Italy,” premiered on CNN. That alone would have been enough to sate my appetite, until I received Tucci’s 2021 memoir “Taste: My Life Through Food” as a birthday gift and found myself hungry once more.

Cracking open Tucci’s memoir, his thoughts fueled my hunger for a good read and rendered me ravenous both for travel and for the chance to try the dishes he described so deliciously in his book.

Reflecting on his life in and out of the kitchen, Tucci seamlessly guides his readers through stories and recipes fondly remembered from childhood, travels and the people and moments that shaped his life and career.

Food lovers will find their fascination heightened in reading the words of a man whose love of food has flourished throughout countless experiences, both personal and professional.

The memoir opens with a dialogue from Tucci’s childhood that reminisces about an early appreciation of food shared between Tucci and his mother. The memoir’s closing dialogue mirrors this appreciation as shared between Tucci and his youngest son, demonstrating how these connections are preserved and passed on to future generations.

From the school lunches that sparked envy among his classmates and weekly dinner plans to the Fourth of July celebrations with extended family, Tucci reminisces about his childhood through the meals shared with his family.

His time as a struggling actor in New York City is wistfully framed through the lens of eateries that no longer exist. As he narrates the rise in his career success, Tucci compares the variety (and quality) of food offered to cast and crew on film sets and evokes stories from his work in foodie films like “Big Night” and “Julie & Julia.”

As well as sharing food memories that include his late wife, Kate, Tucci describes the spark between himself and his new wife, Felicity Blunt, over their love of food.

Balancing the sweet with the bitter, Tucci doesn’t shy away from writing about his own oral cancer diagnosis and its impact on his love of food.

Finishing “Taste” in just four days, I could hear Tucci’s wry voice in my head with each story I savored. Regardless of whether a meal delighted or disgusted him, I admired how Tucci handles each dish he writes about with respect and ample research into how it’s regarded in other cultures. This respect for cuisine also sparked within me a sharper observation of how food is prepared and why certain pairings of food are considered unthinkable.

Thanks to Tucci’s memoir, should I ever find myself in Italy (a destination earmarked on my travel bucket list), I’ll plan a visit to the restaurant Pommidoro in Rome and order the pasta carbonara, a dish prepared so outstandingly at Pommidoro that Tucci dares readers to see if they can eat it without uttering an obscenity in awe.

Should my travels take me to Paris, I’ll refrain from ordering andouillette, a mistake Tucci wryly shared with Meryl Streep after filming  scenes for “Julie & Julia.”

Inspired by Tucci’s family experiences with making timpano, I now await the day I can make it with my partner, Tom, in our own kitchen, perhaps (given the time and effort required) saving its preparation for a special occasion.

And given how strongly he writes about this faux pas, I pity the fool that dares cut his spaghetti in Tucci’s presence.

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