If you have been following this column, you have come to expect a book recommendation every two weeks. This week, I write no such column. And for that, I am sorry. However, even if I do apologize for the pain you might go through by not receiving a book recommendation, I’m not sorry about the column I am writing. That is because, as I said in my piece last week, I needed a break. So what is better than just taking a break? Taking a break with food and alcohol. And what could make that even better? Escaping to Italy with Stanley Tucci.
I’m not advocating for you to up and drop out of Bowdoin—though I wouldn’t necessarily stop you if you told me your plan was to travel with Stanley Tucci and try the best pasta in each region of Italy. No, I’m advocating for you, like I said in my previous column, to take a f*cking break. “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” offers many of the things I love: Italy, pasta, wine, cocktails and, of course, Stanley Tucci. Most importantly, it provides six episodes of forgetting pandemics, school work and (in my case) job applications.
The Show: “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy”
I’m not sure where the kids these days might have encountered Stanley Tucci. As the youngest of four children, and with a mom who definitely rubbed off her tastes in pop culture, I’m not the best judge of Gen Z media. Perhaps you may recognize Tucci from “The Hunger Games,” where he played a sort of eccentric talk-show host. I remember him best from films like “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Impostors” and “Julie and Julia” (all of which you should most definitely watch). However, all of this isn’t really related to the series I’m recommending you to watch—it’s only to say that Stanley Tucci is an excellent actor. Okay, I’ll be honest, it’s also to jog your memory of the fact that Stanley Tucci is an absolute babe.
So this new CNN series is really a chance for all of us to watch the hot, charming, bilingual Stanley Tucci travel around Italy cooking, eating and drinking. This isn’t to say that you won’t learn anything. At the very least you will walk away from this show with the ability to make wonderful pasta dishes and drinks—maybe you’ll even learn some geography. However, our man Stan doesn’t just stop at teaching us how to make good food and have fun. In Italy—and across the world—food is politics, food is life. If you look at the history of food and where that food is made, you will find both history and current social dynamics. “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” examines these complexities through the food in Italy and, in doing so, gives the viewer a blueprint for following his lead in our own lives. From the influx of migrants Italy is receiving by boats every day to coming to terms with the origins of what makes Italy famous (“Italian” cuisine, which, spoiler, is mostly taken from same place the current migrants are from), Tucci delivers to the viewer a crash course not only of the taste of food but also of the power it holds.
Why Bowdoin should watch it:
Although I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to repeat myself here: people need a f*cking break. This is the most important reason I think you should watch this show. In the midst of honors deadlines, job searches and the crushing pressure of not being able to hang out with friends in person for a year, we all deserve it.
There are, of course, other reasons you might watch this series. For starters, I’ve never seen a travel documentary, much less a food documentary, that so aptly investigates the cultural, political and historical implications of what makes a certain place so popular as this one. Then, you have our man Stan, the absolute babe of a 60-year-old who is our guide. Finally, you have Italy—need I say more? Now excuse my abrupt ending to this piece as I’m going to try and recreate this beautiful zucchini pasta dish from the show and probably drink a bottle of Chianti while I do so.