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Stanley Tucci’s 'Taste' will get you thinking about great meals

Until recently, I knew of Stanley Tucci only from his acting – from his roles in “Spotlight,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” I remembered he also portrayed Julia Child’s husband, Paul, in the 2009 film “Julie & Julia,” but I had no idea he was a foodie and a gourmand in his own right.

The new memoir-slash-cookbook, “Taste: My Life Through Food,” reveals a whole other side of Tucci: his “love of food and all that it encompasses.” Tucci was raised in New York by Italian-American parents and a family that spent every night around the table.

In this collection of memories and recipes, he relates the importance of food in his life, from his family’s Fourth of July picnics to a particularly memorable meal he shared with Meryl Streep in France.

He talks about acting as an annoying little thing he has to do to pay the bills, but his real love is food, and that passion is downright contagious as you read this memoir. (I listened to the audio version, read by Tucci himself, which I highly recommend.)

A scene early in the book relates a typical Sunday meal at Tucci’s grandparents’ house, where the older generation is forcing home-grown vegetables and dollar bills onto the younger, and everyone is yelling and arguing as only loving family members can do.

Tucci describes some of his favorite meals and eateries in New York, though unfortunately many have closed because of the pandemic. He also talks about the shutdowns in London, when daily life with his wife and children became a dreamy journey from one home-cooked meal to the next, and his battle with cancer, which further cemented his love of food and cooking.

You don’t have to be a foodie to enjoy this charming, fun memoir. But it will get you thinking about great meals and the people you share them with.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.