I first saw this book in a book shop and thought that it looked quite interesting and then I began to see reviews and mentions on social media so decided to order it from the library. I’m so glad that I did as it was a really enjoyable read.
Book Blurb – Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about growing up in Westchester, New York, preparing for and filming the foodie films, Big Night and Julie and Julia, falling in love over dinner and teaming up with his wife to create conversation-starting meals for their children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burnt dishes is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.
After a blurb like that, how can anyone who enjoys food resist this book? Taste is part a memoir and partly a cookbook. It is Stanley Tucci’s homage to food and the importance that it has played in his life.
It’s mostly a chronological account beginning with his childhood memories of his mother’s cooking and watching cooking shows on TV. The memories of eating with his family and the meals cooked by his mother are obviously still incredibly vivid and you definitely get a sense of a family for whom shared meal times were so important.
The importance of food to his family when he was growing up has obviously stayed with him and the book details periods of his life and the meals he ate both in restaurants and later prepared by himself and his wife. The descriptions of the food are amazingly vivid and it is definitely difficult to read this without wanting to immediately go and eat an Italian meal.
Each chapter not only contains details of the meals eaten but some of the actual recipes as well including one for traditional English roast potatoes. I read the actual book rather than the audio version, but as you read, you can definitely hear Tucci’s voice and the passage where his wife cooks roast potatoes in the traditional way to the bemusement of her husband and in-laws really comes to life.
As a film actor, he’s travelled a lot and the book covers some of the different places that he has eaten as well as the company he ate with. One of the most memorable passages for me was the meal he describes in Normandy in the company of Meryl Streep. Unlike most of the food descriptions in the book, this one doesn’t tempt me at all!!
There is a lot of humour in the book even in the later chapters where he finds that he is suffering from oral cancer and was in danger of losing his sense of taste completely. It’s a very easy book to read and I would find that I sat down to read for a short time only to find that an hour had passed.
Stanley Tucci constantly makes the point about how important food and the sharing of meals is to so many of us. I love going out for a meal with my husband and we try to eat together as many nights as we can as that shared time is so special. I also love books where food plays a large part. Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti views food with the same love as Tucci and the novels have many descriptions of Venetian cuisine. Another series where local cookery is a an important part are the Bruno, Chief of Police books by Martin Walker which are set in the Dordogne and feature many mouth watering meals.
This is a brilliant read that made me immediately want to try the recipes as well as track down the TV shows and films that he mentions. If you enjoy celebrity memoirs or cookbooks, then this is certainly one to read.
This is my ninth book Non-Fiction book so far in 2022 so I’m well on track to hit my Non-Fiction Reader Challenge this year. The Non-Fiction Reader Challenge is hosted at Book’dout and you can find the details of the challenge here