This past summer Tom and I had my mother and brother over for dinner, and while we were sitting at the table, my mother brought up my birthday. “What would you like us to get you for your birthday?” my mother asked. “Let me think about it,” was my reply. It is a pretty standard reply from me and sometimes I really never come up with an adequate response, but on this occasion, in the interim, I did come up with something. I was still basking in the glow of having watched Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy and discovered that he had an upcoming book. So, that was what I wanted.
On the next visit, the question came up again, and this time I had my answer prepared. I told them I wanted Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, that it needed to be the signed copy, and that meant it needed to be purchased through Barnes and Noble. Then I fielded questions such as, “Is that all?”. Yes. “You know it won’t be out until October?” Yes. “You know it only costs $28?” Yes, it doesn’t matter. It’s what I want.
So, it is now October and I have my book. Was it worth the wait? Indeed. I’ll start by saying that this is not a cookbook. Although there are some recipes and cocktail recipes peppered throughout the book, it is a memoir. A memoir that is very relatable. How is it relatable you ask? While I certainly have never dined with the great Marcello Mastroianni nor gallivanted around Normandy with Meryl Streep, there are other things I can relate to. He is just a few years older than I am, I know what it is like to view my life with one foot planted in the US and the other in England, and I married into an Italian American family. So, yes, it is relatable.
He begins the book as most memoirs begin with his childhood as an Italian American kid growing up in New York and takes us on his journey to the present. Throughout the book are many family interactions that made me laugh out loud or suddenly feel the need to read aloud to Tom. Let’s face it, Stanley Tucci has charm and wit in excess and this book shows it off to its best advantage. He also name drops shamelessly which adds to the hilarity.
Occasionally, Mr. Tucci does let some of the charming and funny veneer drop and shares with the reader some of the reality of his life that is not quite so glamorous. This of course, makes him all the more relatable and takes him from “movie star” to fellow human being.
As for the recipes, I will certainly be trying some if not all of them. Actually, my plan was to make Spaghetti with Lentils last night until I found out there was a recall on onions and decided that it would be wiser to revisit at a later date. There is the recipe for the Spaghetti con Zuchinne alla Nerano which was definitely a “I want to make that” for both Ray and me when watching Searching for Italy. There is also Timpano, which Ray listed as one of his cooking aspirations in his post about Big Night, which of course is written about extensively in this memoir. So, at this point I will propose to both Ray and Marie that we attempt to make Timpano when we finally have a reunion sometime in the nebulous future. To make sure you are both prepared, Marie and Ray, you will be receiving your copy of the book before the weekend is over.
The last comment I will make about this book is that Stanley Tucci reveals that on Christmas mornings before any unwrapping takes place, he is at the ready with a plastic bag to swiftly and immediately dispose of any and all of the wrapping paper. I’ve seen this behavior from only one other person in my life and that would be my husband Tom who is lovingly but accurately nicknamed “The Family Grudunza”. I felt slightly bewildered that there was another sole that fixated on this rather than be “in the moment” on Christmas Day, and Tom felt fully vindicated.