Book Review: Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci and I sat down with a great bowl of fried meatballs between us. He told me stories about his love affair with food, how he grew up, and the life lesson he treasured most — that a shared meal is the greatest gift we can give and receive. This shared meal is exactly what it feels like to read his beautiful and delicious new memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food.

Stanley Tucci and I have a lot in common. We are both Italian on both sides and our families come from Calabria, a region in southern Italy. (On my father’s side, my family is from Sicily.) We were both raised just north of New York City — him in Westchester and me in the Hudson Valley. We’ve lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (where I still live), and began our careers working in theater. We also both love winter, history, and parties filled with people we love.

The part of his story that resonated most with me is the part that I wish neither of us understood — we are both cancer survivors who went through a set of serious and horrendous treatments, and are now thankfully healed. Known as “no evidence of disease”, the prognosis for both of us is excellent and we both realized a similar truth in our journeys.

Ironically, Tucci’s cancer was at the base of his tongue and had a devastating short-term impact on his ability to eat and taste food, one the greatest pleasures of his life. Now healthy and able to eat and taste, he appreciates and loves food with an even greater passion.

Like his late wife, Kate, I had breast cancer and my ongoing side effects from medication cause me to have joint pain and make me feel more tired than usual. Thankfully, I seem to be improving a little bit every day as my body adjusts to the medication and continues healing. This makes me even more grateful for the ability to exercise and move, and has caused me to only spend time and energy doing things I love. I don’t waste a second of my life because I know just how fortunate I am to be here and to be healthy again.

Tucci’s memoir does what all wonderful memoirs do — makes you feel as if you know someone you’ve never met. These 291 pages felt like a long walk and a good talk with a dear friend. I don’t drink alcohol anymore for health reasons, but if I ever get the chance to meet Tucci in-person and he offers to make me a Negroni or a martini I will happily make an exception as long as the drink comes with another set of wonderful stories about his love for food.

Taste is a New York Times Bestseller and available everywhere books are sold. I highly recommend it.

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