"This past year I began a relationship with a negroni and I am happy to say it's going very well", Stanley Tucci writes in his memoir-cum-recipe-book Taste. And I, as a woman who watched that fateful Instagram video posted of the actor and food fanatic mixing a negroni on 20 April 2020, can safely say that my relationship with Stanley Tucci has never been stronger.

Tucci, who has occupied an intimate and comparatively sequestered corner of pop culture for years, burst, like an overripe peach, onto the world stage during the pandemic when he shared a video of what by all accounts appears to be an average evening in the Tucci household: him mixing his wife Felicity Blunt, a literary agent, a cocktail.

What has followed has ranged from rabid drooling over his measured grace and dulcet tones, to parasocial relationships and being labeled the "Daddy of the Internet".

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Watch: Stanley Tucci makes Tucci Ragu

Lust aside, this period has illuminated the parts of the The Devil Wear Prada actor that we haven’t always gotten to see: the gourmand, the traveller, the history buff and the charming writer, all of which gets a chance to breathe in this delectable book.

Like the man behind it, the book doesn't fit easily into any one genre. With two cookbooks already under his belt – The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table: Cooking With Family and Friends – it’s less a rummage through his weekly recipe go-tos and more a heartfelt rumination on food, cooking, the experience of being a person who eats. This mission statement becomes all the more fervent for Tucci’s revelation of his diagnosis with throat cancer, which he details for the first time in this book.

He recalls his upbringing in Katonah, New York, son to two first-generation Italian Americans with strong roots in the dilapidated but ancient Calabrian region in southern Italy. He dutifully recounts his daily meals of veal cutlets, meatballs and ragù, valorising them alongside processed American staples of the 1970s, such as Velveeta and marshmallow fluff.

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Watch: Stanley Tucci on getting into character, Julie & Julia, and recording his audiobook

From here, follow reflections on life as a teenager in Rome, eating well on food sets, sharing an unfortunate sausage incident with Meryl Streep and a brilliantly frank section simply titled "My Stomach", which begins with the author detailing his IBS and ends with his impassioned plea for a gluten-free pasta. "Perhaps some day a pill will be available to cure the scourge of gluten-intolerance. Or just intolerance", he quips.

Tucci’s connection to his family hums throughout the book, but particularly in his empathetic depiction of the Italian wave, the slew of immigrants who rooted themselves in the United States and maintained a link to their homeland through meticulously maintained gardens, full tables and tightly held traditions.

The importance of food is central to this. A genuinely moving moment comes when Tucci recalls how his first wife Kate, who died of breast cancer in 2009, would strive to perfect Tucci’s mother’s recipe for lasagne. After years of tweaking and asking for tips, the mother tastes it and tells Kate, "I have nothing left to teach you". "And then", writes Tucci, "she started to cry."

As if to stop the book from becoming too wholesome, Tucci will pepper his observations with the kind of endearing, bone-deep Italian scorn that Sofia from Golden Girls made famous, such as watching a dining partner cutting their spaghetti: "Some of me will hate most of them forever." Contrasting this is his gleeful namedropping of chef friends, such as Massimo Bottura, the man who singlehandedly make cacio e pepe a global phenomenon.

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Watch: Stanley Tucci Speaks Italian Like a Very Old 12-Year-Old

As a food fanatic, it’s unsurprising that he has an air of the food historian about him, but his ease in sharing it leaves the reader wishing they could accompany him on a family holiday. A mention of bread leads to the distinction between French bread and Italian bread, and Italian bread and Florentine bread (no salt).

He gently course corrects the trajectory of well-known Italian dishes, challenging what we think we know about how Italians really eat, by revealing that there are specific pasta shapes to be served with specific sauces and a spaghetti Bolognese is arguably the worst example of Italian food.

Meanwhile his own recipes are short, sweet and unceremoniously ceremonious. Eggs poached in tomato sauce, garlicky pasta, a classic Martini, all detailed as deftly as the author probably makes them. Half of the depictions of food are accompanied by Tucci’s confession to salivating over them as he writes.

Tucci was Oscar nominated in 2010 for his role in The Lovely Bones

For Tucci, family recipes are family heirlooms, a sentiment that is hard to not gobble up as you read. "The only way they can be lost is if we choose to lose them", he writes.

His recipe for the Tucci tomato sauce – a simple mixture of crushed tomatoes boiled for hours and seasoned with fresh basil – genuinely strikes the reader as an incantation, a vast and ancient undertaking the requires two enormous pots, a fire pit and a cellar, which produces an alchemically delicious sauce.

The timpano, an intimidatingly complex dish made of pasta stuffed into a pastry mould, gets its own section, such has been the terror its wrought on Tucci and both his wives. I’d never heard of a timpano before reading this book and I fear its arrival on the table.

All of these glimpses into a life well and happily lived seem to foreshadow the eventual revelation of Tucci’s throat cancer ordeal, a harrowing experience that left him with no sense of taste or smell, barely any saliva to break down food and eventually a feeding tube in his stomach.

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After weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, Tucci writes, food tasted like "old, wet cardboard". In this sense, his now-famous negroni video and even this book register as a reclamation of one of the star’s greatest joys: tasting.

The true masterstoke, however, is that rather than each of these vignettes coagulating like a poorly made timpano, they slot together like artfully selected antipasti, creating the impression not of being lectured or bragged at or sped through a home economics class, but of having the luck and privilege of having a seat at Tucci’s dinner table, where the chat is earnest but relaxed, and brimming with passion.

As he says himself: "Food not only feeds me, it enriches me. All of me. Mind, body and soul. It is nothing more than everything."

Taste