Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci AKA My inspiration for a cozy weekend in.
Stanley Tucci’s memoir “Taste: My Life Through Food,” reads like a dinner party, the sort where the host, in this case Stanley Tucci, welcomes you into his kitchen and regales you with stories through food memories that strike as recipes simmer. In his memoir, Tucci tells of his family and friends, his filmmaking career, and his triumphant battle with cancer. He shares his authoritative food opinions, as if talking with a trusted confidant and without pretension. “I have never found pretentiousness very filling,” Tucci writes.
His admiration for food purveyors and restaurateurs shines, as he seems unable to resist the urge to share a magnificent, or significant food experience he’s had. Thanks to him, Chris and I now have a Pinterest Board full of restaurants to visit: Places to Eat from Tucci’s Taste. When he tells of less than laudable experiences (pretty much just on film sets), he is kind in his perspective and acknowledges challenges and limitations.
In addition to restaurants to try, there are recipes to cook up in “Taste.” I made the Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano from the book last night. “Does it have a pesto?” Chris asked me as we ate. “No.” “It tastes like pesto.” He’s right. It tastes like more than it is. Tucci tells of a similar experience the first time he tried the dish in Italy. Spaghetti, zucchine, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, oil, and sea salt are its only ingredients.
Stories in the book are seasoned (sorry, couldn’t resist) with information, instruction, and ideas about what one might do with a few humble ingredients. Pasta shapes ought to be paired with appropriate sauces, “a divine coupling.” Bread should only be eaten after pasta, “as a “scarpetto” (meaning, in essence, ‘little shoe’) to mop up any excess sauce left in the bowl.” Speaking of bread, when having corn on the cob, Tucci recommends buttering the corn using homemade bread, because then the bread becomes “saturated with the melted butter, salt, and sweetness from the buttered kernels.” Sounds scrumptious, doesn’t it?
After reading “Taste,” I had to watch “Big Night.” By had, I mean I couldn’t resist. It’s a movie Tucci co-wrote, co-directed, and acted in. By reading the former and watching the latter in that order, you can see how life inspired the art and why the movie is so powerful. It’s personal. Not only is the movie a delight for lovers of good food (and really, how can anyone not be?), it says a lot about the tug of war between creating art and making profit. The film culminates in a transformational feast, similar to “Babette’s Feast,” a movie that Tucci calls glorious and served as a bit of an inspiration for “Big Night.” Glorious is a great word for “Babette’s Feast.” It’s a Danish drama from the late ‘80s with some hilarious moments, which is why I’ve included it in the recipe for a cozy weekend in.
My Recipe for a Cozy (and lovely) Weekend In:
To be done in whatever order you wish with embellishments of your choosing:
- Read Taste. This is essential.
- Listen to Swing, Jazz, some Andrea Boccelli, etc. Click here for a great playlist, perfect to listen to while reading ”Taste.”
- Watch Big Night, Babette’s Feast, and Julie and Julia.
- Make a frittata.
- Bake Bread.
- Cook Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano.
- Drink Wine. Or, maybe a Martini, or possibly a Negroni. Perhaps some espresso in the morning. P.S. have you seen the sensation that is Stanley Tucci making a Negroni on Instagram? Click here if you haven’t.
For another fun Italian cooking adventure, check out our Date Night Idea: Cook Up a Romantic Date Night at Home by Taking an Online Gnocchi Making Class.
For more travel books to add to your reading list, check out my travel-inspired reading list on Amazon*! Have you read any great food or travel books lately? We’d love to know!
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