I wasn’t expecting to read this book last week but I ended up needing a pick-me-up at work. It was when I was feeling shit and I was desperate for something to distract me. Otherwise, I would have sat in front of my computer feeling sorry for myself. So, I started listening to Stanley Tucci narrate his book Taste. I’d bought the hardback when it came out but I always like to experience this type of book in the writer’s own voice. Especially when that voice is a very talented and funny actor.
It’s no secret that Stanley Tucci is a big foodie. He’s made that quite clear by now. What also isn’t a surprise is that he is a funny and charming individual. His food memoir is everything that I thought that it would be and more. Listening to the audiobook version made the experience even more engaging as you get to witness the passion within the words firsthand. His anecdotes fly off the page and the way he describes the food is mesmerising.
I’m not normally a lover of memoir or autobiographical type books but this book is so much more. Memory is tied up with our senses and Tucci’s life has been one long list of culinary experiences. Coming from an Italian family, eating was always a very important part of the actor’s life and that is something that stuck with him. It’s great to get a snapshot of his life alongside the food that he enjoyed along the way. It ends up being a witty and often heartfelt exploration of Tucci’s past.
Alongside the autobiographical elements, the book is full of great recipes for the food that crops up within his stories. This is definitely a great read for a food lover as well as a fan of the actor. All recipes are presented with his passion but with enough authority to make this a useful resource. However, it is the more poignant chapters that are the most memorable. The final section where he describes his battle with cancer and the moments when he discusses his family history are the standouts. You get a sense of his emotional state and why his sense of happiness is so tied up with food.
This is very much a Stanley Tucci book. What really makes this book work is that it is written with Tucci’s signature wit and self-deprecation. He never misses the chance to poke fun at himself or the people he discusses. And he does discuss a fair few famous faces. Tucci is dropping names all over the place even though he only briefly touches upon his life on film sets. Only a man as charming as this could make this work and anyone who has seen him interviewed will know what to expect from Tucci. It helps sell this book and elevate it beyond any ordinary food memoir.
Taste might end up seeming disappointing if someone were to pick it up expecting an expert analysis of dishes or an in-depth autobiographical rundown. However, that’s not what this claims to be. It’s a much more relaxed style and the feels more like a series of vignettes instead of a chronology. I think that actually works a lot better because it helps with the pacing. You don’t feel bogged down by unnecessary personal context and it allows Tucci to release all of his foodie passion. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and will definitely go back to make note of some of these recipes for the future.