Wednesday was Not A Good Day in my house. My car broke down, just as I was setting off to visit my parents, and instead of taking Mum out for a pot of tea and (perhaps) a slice of lemon drizzle cake, I spent a wet afternoon waiting for the AA to recue me and then, in fear it might conk out again, driving my car to the mechanic that I have trusted with it for the last 15 years, and with my many cars before that. I know they don’t take advantage of the fact that, beyond lusting after a decent Ferrari or an Aston Martin, what lies beneath the bonnet is a mystery to me.
And, on my return, I felt the need to escape the dark, gloomy evening in Liverpool that lay before me. Trudi, in the Hygge Nook, had posted something about Stanley Tucci’s cookery programme, Searching for Italy, and I found it on BBC iplayer. We were having a slow cooked pork casserole with pasta that night, so cooking was easy, and I watched Episode One: Napoli, Ischia and the Amalfi Coast. By the end I was lusting after a proper hand thrown pizza, with buffalo mozzarella and San Marcano tomatoes. And seeking out his cookbooks.
Although Mr Tucci (I seriously love this guy: he is so cool) has a new cookbook out, Taste, published last October, and I have bought this to review at a later date, it’s the 2015 book, The Tucci Table, that caught my tastebuds and pulled me in. It is easy to always head straight away for the newest and most recent, but I think sometimes you get a sense of the evolution of a cook when you read their books in order. Sometimes a cook moves from technical to traditional when their children come along, or from local to international. I’m keen to read Taste this weekend and see what 7 years has achieved with Mr Tucci.
The Tucci Table is a beautiful family cookbook, by which I mean not that it is one to use with children, but one that nicely collects and showcases the traditional fare for both Stanley and Felicity. It blends British and Italian favourites in a really approachable way, with linguine alla vongole sitting alongside traditional cottage pie and yorkshire pudding.
The book is arranged into useful sections, including an “Our Essential Equipment” chapter, which is always useful. I like seeing what other cooks deem a necessity, both in terms of equipment and ingredients. The rest of the sections are: soups and salads; cicchetti; pasta, rice and grains; fish and seafood; meat and fowl; sides; desserts; basics. I warn you now, the desserts chapter is very thin on the ground. Mr Tucci is, obviously, sweet enough already.
Illustrated throughout with beautifully staged photos of the food and also snapshots of the Tucci family making or eating it, the book is appealing and solid at 235 pages long. I have the hardback, and it is a fair weight.
Recipes usually have a small introduction beforehand, a tale from one author’s past or the other, and then are clearly set out with numbered stages and a nicely readable ingredients list. I liked how, once or twice, a recipe that *could* cause issues had step by step photographs included without saying so… the wrapped stuffed leaves is a case in point.
There are solid basic recipes in here, such as roast chicken and a decent bolognese that takes 2 hours simmering, but there are also ‘treat’ recipes, for when you have time. Gnocchi, for instance, or instructions for a large party paella as well as a smaller, family-friendly version.
Having watched an episode (or two, by now) of Searching for Italy, I found myself reading the book in Mr Tucci’s inimitable tones. I understand that Taste is available as an audiobook, narrated by Stanley. I’m tempted, just to be able to sit in the sunshine with a red wine and listen.
The book is an unfussy celebration of food. It’s solid, good, heart-warming stuff. The vegetables are always brightest green and freshest red, the meat is juicy and sumptuous, the pictures ooze appeal. I may be on a (Slimming World) diet, but I’m pretty convinced that most of these would be adaptable: certainly the salads and vegetable dishes are giving me ideas of what to do and how to achieve it. I may give it a go as the basis of my family meals this week and see if I get any complaints.
Or I’ll pour myself another Aperol and lemonade, and sip slowly as I indulge in another flip through and another Italian trip by imagination. That may be a better idea. A weekend off to understand why Dolce Far Niente is a popular Italian motto. I leave you, as always, with the flipthrough.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash. I love the implied cosiness of the photograph: the two hot chocolate cups, the biscuits and squares of chocolate imply a good bit of chatting going on here. Plus I like the colours: red tartan and real wood. What’s not to like? And the header is a shot of the real Tucci Table, as seen in the book. I love the simplicity of the setting, the signs of a well-made meal enjoyed by everyone and the idea that, afterwards, they’ve gone off to relax before coming back to do the washing up later. Dolce far niente.