Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci will go down as one of my favorite food memoirs and memoirs in general. For me, it's the combination of his passion for food, the glimpse at celebrity life, and how a person who seems like a generally nice guy, has overcome some serious health hardships in his life--his first wife's death from cancer and his own oral cancer in 2018. Tucci is the kind of person one imagines they would like to be friends with--not just to be invited over to dinner for the food, but for the interesting conversation as well.
I loved his stories of growing up with a mother who could have been a chef, in a big Italian foodie family and how he became the foodie he is. I enjoyed hearing about his experience on movie sets as they related to food. (He did lose a few points from me for eating puffin in Iceland as all I could think about was one of my favorite bird characters, Neil the Puffin from Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery series and that made me sad--despite the preponderance of them in that country. I have forgiven him.) The celebrity stories are fun and a bit endearing, making me love Colin Firth and Ryan Reynolds even more than I do for the roles they played when Tucci was going through cancer treatment. And finally, the food--there is so much glorious food and recipes peppered throughout the book that it is impossible not to crave food and Italian food while reading it. Speaking of reading, I went back and forth between my e-book and audiobook and I have to encourage you to listen to the audiobook, even if you have read the printed version. It's like listening to your most interesting and slightly eccentric friend tell stories, and leads one to want to binge favorite Stanley Tucci movies and his series, Searching For Italy. A delightful experience.
OK, so the food. I actually tagged several recipes that I planned to make namely the Spaghetti con Zucchine all Nerano, Spaghetti with Lentils, his mother's Risotto Milanese, Felicity's Roast Potatoes, Salsa Maria Rosa (or any of the other pasta sauces) and finally his Pasta Fagioli (My Way).
In the end, I was set for the soup, yesterday, but then it just didn't sound good--mainly the beans and kale, and really, I just didn't want to cook. I wanted to be on my couch with a book and the fan blowing on me and so I ordered Mushroom Risotto from a local restaurant where it is made with Hamakua Mushrooms (hon shimeji or brown beech mushrooms), truffle and nori. Not traditional, but delicious. And, friends, I was so lazy that I didn't even replate it, I just ate it out of the container and enjoyed about half of it last night and the rest will be dinner tonight.
Mushroom risotto is mentioned in the book as the "adult" meal on Tucci's menu in his quarantine "day-in-the-life" chapter and also risotto is mentioned a few other times throughout as something he could eat both with gluten intolerances and then later after his cancer treatment. I will make his mother's Risotto Milanese one of these days.
Here are links to three Mushroom Risotto Recipes I did make:
The deadline for this round is today, and I will be rounding up the entries for Cook the Books on the website in a day or two. If you missed this round and you like books and food and foodie books, join us for our June/July pick, A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain hosted by Claudia of Honey from Rock.