Published March 31, 2022
I occasionally joke that, when I’m with the Italian side of my extended family, the main thing we discuss at the dinner table is what we’re planning to eat the next day. It’s only sort of a joke.
Every culture has its venerated culinary traditions, but we Italians savor ours with unique fervor and defend them with particular intensity. Most of my memories of holidays and family gatherings are anchored, in large part, by memories of what we ate: leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary for Easter, the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, big outdoor celebrations around the grill for the Fourth of July.
Raised this way, I felt right at home reading Stanley Tucci’s new memoir, Taste. “In Italian families, nothing is discussed, ruminated on, or joked about as much as food (except death, but I’ll save that subject for another book),” Tucci writes early on. Reading that sentence made me feel as though I’d pulled up a chair at his kitchen table, or at my own.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a staff writer for National Review and a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.