Stanley Tucci is one of those actors who is in a great many films I have enjoyed, and while he is rarely the ‘star’, his performances are always memorable. I have always rather liked him; he exudes a warmth and charm that is hard to resist, especially if, like me, you are attracted by intelligence and self-deprecating wit. So you can imagine my delight this past December when I opened one of my Christmas presents to discover his most recent oeuvre, ‘Taste – My Life Through Food’ looking up at me.
Taste is a sort of combination autobiography/travelogue/food memoir, in some ways a series of anecdotes, but all suffused with flavour so richly that one salivates. The text is dotted here and there with recipes, either Stanley’s own, or those he credits from family, friends or chefs he has encountered on both personal and professional travels. And humour. Plenty of that self-deprecating humour I love, but so much funny stuff that I occasionally laughed out loud while reading. Who doesn’t love a writer who makes you do that?
Not to say that the book is all sweetness and light. Tucci speaks candidly about the loss of his first wife to cancer, and then, at the end, of his own more recent struggle with the same disease, which with a horrible irony, struck him in the mouth. He has recovered, obviously, but the worst of his treatment coincided with the birth of his youngest child, so his second wife (Felicity Blunt, the literary agent and sister of actor Emily) had a toddler, a newborn, a caesarean to heal from and a very sick husband unable to help her in any way.
For me personally, Taste evoked memories of home, of holidays in Italy with our children, of great meals eaten with lovely people… all the things that make my heart smile. I have already tried his Negroni recipe – spoiler: it’s DELICIOUS – and I will definitely be working my way through most of the others, as and when. Although I think the whole roast pig might just have to stay on the back burner, as it were.
‘Taste – My Life Through Food’ – Stanley Tucci – Fig Tree – ISBN 978-0-241-50099-6