Saturday, May 21, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Taste: My Life in Food by Stanley Tucci

Earlier this year I heard about this book, in particular the audio version. I was looking for something engaging and easy to listen to, and so, despite the fact I don't read a lot of non fiction, I gave it a go. Boy, I am glad I did.

I did intend to post  about this back in February when I was on a bit  of a Tucci kick, but I wanted to get the book from the library so that I could grab a recipe or two out of it. Howeverr, it took months for it to come in. Obviously a popular book. Luckily it came in time for me to participate in this round of Cook the Books.

From the opening paragraphs of this book, this was a delightful audio experience. Even now that I have the book sitting here, I can hear Tucci's voice as I flick through the pages and read various paragraphs.

As the title suggests, Tucci takes us on a meander through his life using food as the lens. We start with his childhood, move through to a formative family trip to Italy which really cemented his love of the country, and then on to his life as an actor. 

There are some passages which were a delight. For example, there is an exchange early in the book between his parents and grandparents which made me laugh out loud. The gist of it was that grandma was trying to give his parents some money towards a family meal so there was a prolonged discussion where the parents are saying no, so grandma tries to give it to the kids instead! 

In addition to these simple exchanges, there are also some name dropping and sumptuous meals with famous friends, but the reality is they are people who are in his orbit. For example, he is married to Felicity Blunt, sister of actress Emily Blunt, who is married to Jon Kasinski. You get the idea.

It isn't all glitz and glam. Obviously he does get to mix in those circles, but Tucci has to deal with his own share of challenges including the death of his first wife Kate leaving him to raise their children and his own battle with cancer. In his case, it was cancer of the tongue and the treatment meant that he couldn't eat or taste much at all which for a dedicated foodie like him was obviously challenging.

When I was thinking about which recipe to share for this post, there really was one that jumped at me and that was Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano. There were two main reasons for this. One is the the way that Tucci waxed lyrically about it in both the book and in his TV series (which I reviewed here). The second reason is that I love cooking with zucchini, or more precisely chopping zucchini. When I am chopping zucchini I feel as though I have some knife skills which is definitely not true.

I actually enjoyed the process of making this recipe, but it is time consuming. It took me a long time to fry all the zucchini but Tucci does mention that you could do this part in advance so on the day that you are cooking it you can just in effect put it all together. And as for the taste, it was really delicious. The zucchini was sweet and when you put it together with the cheese and pasta it was deliciously creamy.

I highly recommend this book, in particular the audio version. And now, having revisited this book for this post I feel like I need to go and start watching season 2 of his series Searching for Italy. Or maybe I should start from season 1, episode 1 and make my way through them all....again..

Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano

About 16 fl oz sunflower oil or vegetable oil, or, if you choose, olive oil
8 to 10 small zucchine
75g fresh chopped basil
Sea salt to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
500g spaghetti
200g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place sunflower oil in a large potand bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.

Slice the zucchine into thin rounds and fry in the oil until they are golden brown. Remove and set aside on paper towels.

Sprinkle with basil and salt.

Transfer to a bowl and drizzle liberally with olive oil.

Boil the pasta until al dente and strain, reserving about two cupfuls of the pasta wwater.

Place the cooked pasta in a large pan or pot over low heat along with the zucchine mixture and combine gently. Add the pasta water, a little at a time, to create a creamy texture. You may not use all of the pasta water. Now add some of the Parmigiano to the mixture and continue by stirring gently and tossing. When the mixture has a slight creaminess, remove from the stove and serve immediately.

I thought I would also share a Youtube video of Stanley Tucci making a different recipe, for no other reason than I can.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano
Sunday - Out for dinner
Monday - Mexican Chicken and rice
Tuesday - Quick Cannellini Bean cassoulet with toasted baguette
Wednesday - Ham and cheese omelette
Thursday - Creamy mustard chicken with crispy potatoes and green beans
Friday - Takeaway Friday

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. I love Tucci! I can't believe I haven't read or listened to his book yet! Loved the video and the recipe you shared. Yummmm.

  2. I loved the book, and I really enjoyed the video you posted. Now I still have to watch the TV series.

    I blogged it here:

    best… mae

    1. I am looking forward to watching the second season of the TV series!

  3. I never think of listening to book especially cookbooks on audio. I love the idea and you've go me interested in this book. Thanks.

    1. I don't think I would listen to a cookbook but this is a memoir which is a bit different.

  4. First I am so glad you printed this recipe! I loved the series and can't wait for it to start up again. But I really need to check the library for the audio book, thanks!

    1. I am really looking forward to the second series!

  5. I watched a couple of episodes and enjoyed it. Will look for the audio book at the library.

    1. I recommend both the book and the series.

  6. Great minds and all, I think at least three of us did this recipe! It was quite good!

  7. We made the pasta last night for dinner, and while I am not the biggest pasta fan, I love it!

    1. I will make it again I think Melynda!

  8. I also loved this book. Great choice on the representative meal.

  9. This recipe is on my list to make--it looks so good! I am glad you were able to join in Cook the Books this round! Aloha, Deb

  10. I loved this book too and while I didn't make this recipe I did earmark it for when I have zucchini coming out of my ears here in Michigan.

    1. I hope you enjoy it when you do get to try it.

  11. If it's summer, there's going to be a zucchini dish on my table, most often paired with pasta. So sorry you felt the book over all left a little to be desired. I liked it so much I read it twice

    1. Not sure why you think that was my response. I loved it.



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