To appreciate how much food means to the actor Stanley Tucci and his family, you have to hear the stories about his maternal grandmother, Concetta Tropiano, who pickled her own tomatoes, canned her own pears, curdled her own ricotta, brewed her own beer and fattened her own chickens, rabbits and goats in suburban New York.
Tropiano died in 1997 at age 88, but her legacy endures, in part through “The Tucci Cookbook,” released this month by Gallery Books, a paean to Italian cooking and Italian-American families.
It includes recipes from the Tropiano and Tucci clans, both of which have roots in Calabria, in southern Italy. It reflects the year in the early 1970s when Joan Tucci and her husband, Stanley Sr., temporarily moved their children to Florence and fell hard for lasagne verde. It bows to “Big Night,” the 1996 movie set in an Italian-American restaurant, that Stanley Tucci not only acted in but helped write and direct.
Beyond all of that, “The Tucci Cookbook” suggests the meaty, saucy ways in which a love of food can bind and govern a family.
In Stanley Tucci’s life and career, cooking and eating seem to be the glues for every relationship, the sidebars to every adventure, the grace notes of every achievement.
“Big Night,” an exuberant celebration of culinary obsession, helped put him on the map in Hollywood. More than a decade later, “Julie & Julia,” in which he played Julia Child’s husband, Paul, cemented his reputation as one of Hollywood’s nimblest character actors.
Tucci, 51, is a proud and avid cook, and his arsenal of equipment trumps what many restaurants have on hand.
In addition to six burners and acres of counter space in his kitchen, there’s a mammoth stone pizza oven on the patio, along with a gas grill as large as a Fiat.
He has become friendly with several prominent chefs, including Mario Batali and Adam Perry Lang, the former owner of Daisy May’s BBQ in New York.
Lang saw the Tucci family in action during a visit last summer.
“It’s in vogue now to say, ‘The whole family gathers in the kitchen.’ But they invented that. There are all these people by the stove sauteing things and dunking things and putting gravy over things.”
For a printable copy of the recipes, click the links: