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Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy

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53 minutes ago, DoctorAtomic said:

I don't mind Tucci being repetitive. I don't watch cooking shows, but the accessibility of this show is enjoyable. He's basically like any of us that enjoy cooking. He's not trained. I'd be saying the same things. I'm not going to be able to prepare and cook like a trained chef, but there's a lot here that looks doable if you like being in the kitchen. 

 

I don't mind him being repetitive either.  When I'm watching him tasting the food, I almost have the same reactions that he does!  I can't think of many "creative" things to say when tasting good food.

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He's not a food critic either. I don't care about texture or mouthfeel or whatever. Does it taste good to you? Can you point out some cooking tips? That's fine for me. 

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I'd rather watch Stanley say everything is delicious, melts in his mouth, and is better than the version he makes at home than watch Guy Fieri shove another cheeseburger in his piehole.

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For everyone enjoying this series, have you watched the Fat episode of Samin Nosrat's Netflix series, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat?  She covers some of the same topics from a slightly more technical standpoint, but with equal gusto.  Her facial expressions are the best!  The other three episodes are very good, too, but this is the one I have rewatched.

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6 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I'd rather watch Stanley say everything is delicious, melts in his mouth, and is better than the version he makes at home than watch Guy Fieri shove another cheeseburger in his piehole.

Hallelujah & amen! Why can't we we have more Stanleys and less Fieris? What are we--chopped liver?

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10 hours ago, Crashcourse said:

I don't mind him being repetitive either.  When I'm watching him tasting the food, I almost have the same reactions that he does!  I can't think of many "creative" things to say when tasting good food.

This makes me think of Anthony Bourdain who once said (pre big fame) that it was hard doing restaurant reviews for magazines, "because just how many ways are there to say "crunchy" when describing a salad?"

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On 3/9/2021 at 7:59 PM, Rickster said:

One was published about a year ago with Felicity as co-author, the other is at least several years older when he was living in NY full time. The newer one does not seem to be entirely Italian.

I can’t deal with any more cookbooks either.

Well...I caved. I placed an order for the initial Tucci cookbook. It's out of stock but they'll deliver it when available. I'm interested in that sauce his mom was making. He's cooked with Lidia and she's impressed ~sigh~I love cookbooks.

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20 hours ago, Inquisitionist said:

For everyone enjoying this series, have you watched the Fat episode of Samin Nosrat's Netflix series, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat?  She covers some of the same topics from a slightly more technical standpoint, but with equal gusto.  Her facial expressions are the best!  The other three episodes are very good, too, but this is the one I have rewatched.

FYI - we have a forum for Salt Fat Acid Heat here!

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5 hours ago, DoctorAtomic said:

Do you actually need to review salad as a food critic? 

Frequently. 

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I mean, fancy salads? I don't really go to a restaurant thinking about the salad. 

Oh, I think I can make that vegetable sauce. 

I liked that his parents visited. And his mom giving him business about whether the show would be successful. 

How many times does he say, 'Jesus, goddammit that's good.' 

Edited by DoctorAtomic

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11 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

Unfortunately, Italy is having their third wave of Covid 19 cases and it doesn't look too good now.

So, here we are, Stanley's audience, craving Italian food and beautiful scenery and wine, after watching these episodes...ready to hop on a plane and fly over...and the country has shut down.  Mamma mia! I could cry.

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On 3/18/2021 at 8:58 PM, annzeepark914 said:

So, here we are, Stanley's audience, craving Italian food and beautiful scenery and wine, after watching these episodes...ready to hop on a plane and fly over...and the country has shut down.  Mamma mia! I could cry.

I know, it stinks!

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SEASON FINALE!

S1.E6: Sicily

Quote

In Sicily, Stanley tastes the grapes grown in the region's unique soils and reflects on Sicilian hospitality.

Original air date: 3/21/21

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45 minutes ago, Robert Lynch said:

Anybody knows how they would do a second season amid Europe's shutdown?

If Italy is on lockdown again and restaurants/businesses are required to be closed, there's nothing to film. According to the internet, only 4% of the Italian population have received both doses of the COVID vaccine so it may be a while before it's safe to reopen/allow international travel/film there again.

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I mean these types of shoes don’t just immediately start shooting. There is a lot of pre-production stuff. Not to mention they have to work around Stanley’s schedule. Also who knows what they have in the can given that they filmed at several different times.

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I would think they will push to try to have season 2 ready about a year after season 1, strike while the iron is hot so to speak.

If for instance they can't air until say fall of 2022 vs. early 2022, it may lose momentum.

So if they haven't shot anything, they'd need to do so probably by late fall, say mid October of this year, in order to do all the editing and post-production and start airing by mid February or so.

If there are still travel restrictions for the rest of this year, maybe they will try to shoot in 2022 and then present them as post-pandemic Italy say in the fall or winter of 2022.

I think only a couple of the episodes made mentions of the pandemic but maybe they are wary of pandemic fatigue and want to show some vibrant Italy.

It's true though, there's not much to shoot now, because restaurants are closed or are limited to takeaway or were closing by 6 PM in many towns.

Maybe they're going to feature Stanley visiting homes and having them prepare dishes for him, like they did for the Milan episode and others.  But families may be wary of gatherings with relative strangers.  Not just Stanley but the whole production and camera crew, whether they're flown in from overseas or are hired locally.

Currently Italians aren't even allowed to venture more than 10 kilometers from home and then it's for specific purposes like getting health care, which includes getting vaccinations.  That's in the code red provinces.  But hopefully by mid April, the situation will have improved with the case numbers and they ease a lot of these restrictions.

I recall reading a story last summer about some of the smaller family-run trattorias which had to offer takeout in conjunction with app-based delivery services because they were getting few walk-in customers after they reduced their capacity by removing a lot of tables.

As I speculated before though, I'm guessing TV productions will get a lot more leeway than regular tourists, since the show will help promote tourism to Italy, which they want to recover.  If Stanley is still based in the UK, as well as a lot of the production staff, good chance they will be vaccinated by the summer.  The EU right now is weighing whether to allow visitors from outside the EU, which would include people from the UK because of Brexit, to visit if they're vaccinated.  Some countries like Greece really want to allow vaccinated to enter their country and the rest of the EU.

So I'm hopeful that they can still shoot over there -- not to mention the rest of us being allowed to visit.

 

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Stanley... you ate a donkey? How could you? That really shocked me. Poor animals, work so hard for these people, only to be eaten by them. The rest of this episode was interesting. The food is so different from the Italian food I've eaten. I think he said Palermo reminded him of New Orleans, didn't he? I'd like to try the wine that young woman is producing. She's very impressive. Good show. I'm going to miss traveling Italy with Stanley.

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Sicily restaurants and links:

I Pupi: Chef Tony Lo Coco welcomed Tucci into his Michelin star restaurant for his take on the Sicilian classic spaghetti alla bottarga. "The core, the soul of your restaurant," Tucci said to the chef, "is taking the really simple food of Sicily, and elevating it."

Azienda Agricola Arianna Occhipinti: Sicily is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, but its wines are often thought to be too bold to enjoy on their own. Winemaker Arianna Occhipinti is changing the game by producing a more delicate vintage at her vineyard in Vittoria.

Me Cumpari Turiddu: In the port city of Catania, Tucci dined on donkey carpaccio -- "like beef carpaccio, but even sweeter" he says -- and pasta alla norma at Roberta Capizzi's restaurant. "The food is great," Tucci says, "but the magic ingredient that makes this restaurant so special is the wonderful Sicilian hospitality."

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7 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

Anybody knows how they would do a second season amid Europe's shutdown?

He said in the first couple of episodes that he visited the 20 regions of Italy (or something along those lines). Maybe he only said so for the show but maybe they also already filmed in more than 6 regions?

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Liked seeing some shots of Lampedusa.  Showed some dishes there and briefly touched on the migrants problem, all those desperate people boarding unsafe boats to try to reach Italy/Europe.

Featured the two big cities, Palermo and Catania.  The tourist favorites are Siracusa and Taormina and of course the reconstructed ruins in Agrigento and Seliunte are also big draws.  There are good restaurants in all of them except maybe Seliunte.

A lot of people spend minimal time in Palermo and Catania, maybe a night before flying out.

 

This was another pre-pandemic episode so most of the season featured episodes shot before.  That might not augur well for how soon the second season will be broadcast.  Looks like they had over a year after shooting to broadcast.  Maybe they'd have had more than 6 episodes if not for the abnormal conditions of the past year.

I think a lot of the appeal of this season is that we're mostly stuck at home and unable to fly across oceans as freely as we used to.  Stanley is an appealing figure, amiable screen presence and all.

Maybe for the second season, they need to feature more eye candy, like the Bologna episode, make it more of travel-centric beyond the food.

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2 hours ago, aghst said:

Maybe for the second season, they need to feature more eye candy, like the Bologna episode, make it more of travel-centric beyond the food.

I'm not sure if Tucci would go for it; in the intro, he says that to understand Italy you have to understand the food or something along those lines. I'm under the impression that it's all about the food for him.

I think he's also trying to show how diverse Italian food is and how different it is in each region.

I think it's interesting how different it is; it is like that in every country, every region has its specialities. At the same time, the influence from the countries next to that region don't seem to be as prominent in other countries. (Maybe they were at the time the traditions started, however, it's not as noticeable anymore).

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He has stated that he intended to visit the 20 regions of Italy (or something along those lines). When he and his  mother over that the show was going to be cash money, CNN is sort of notorious by of relying on the “news” part to not pay a lot for shows (see The United Shades of America). There isn’t a lot of information about the show’s origin, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they sold it after filming a lot of the show which clearly happened in at least summer of 2019. 

Edited by biakbiak

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Stanley put on a brave face but it looked like he did not enjoy eating that donkey.  

I thought him having dinner with the Lampedusa family with the adopted Egyptian son and and the Nigerian friend was an excellent way to end the season.

Edited by Crashcourse
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The adopted family was in Catania.

They looked like a kind couple but maybe feeling some empty nest syndrome since their own adult kids were living in Germany.

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I sure hope Tucci sticks with highlighting the different foods (with a little history of these places along with shots of the beautiful old bldgs). Rick Steves can take us around for scenery & folk dancing. But for me? When you say Italia, I immediately think of that country's wonderful cuisine. I love the kitchen scenes--professional and home--with the chefs & cooks talking about the foods they're preparing. These people are so into what they're doing they could be in another "Big Night" style movie. 

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Stanley, whenever you can get to the rest of Italy, focusing on the food and people, I’ll be here watching.

Enjoyed watching examples of how different Sicilian cooking is from the mainland. (Recommend the novels—and MHZ movies—of the Andrea Camelieri Inspector Montalbano series. They capture Sicily and Salvo lives to eat.) 

The looks on the family’s faces when they talked about the tragedy at Lampedusa and the flavors of their “make-do” food made for a quietly stunning scene. (I just confirmed, it was on Lampedusa, although later, another family spoke of people dying as their Egyptian foster son came ashore.)

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2 hours ago, Crashcourse said:

Stanley put on a brave face but it looked like he did not enjoy eating that donkey.  

I thought him having dinner with the Lampedusa family with the adopted Egyptian son and and the Nigerian friend was an excellent way to end the season.

I would always wondered  what Stanley would say about Puerto Rican food. We eat the skin of the pig when it crisp and fatty. Most of the time, it’s the whole pig!

Donkey meat...meh.

You think Puerto Rico is next? There is a lot to cover there.

Edited by Robert Lynch

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1 hour ago, Robert Lynch said:

I would always wondered  what Stanley would say about Puerto Rican food. We eat the skin of the pig when it crisp and fatty. Most of the time, it’s the whole pig!

While I haven't had any in years, growing up we had pork rinds.  And speaking of the whole pig, the Rome episode with the offal reminded me of the chitterlings ("chitlins") we used to eat.  I lost my taste for them as I got older, and haven't had that in years either. 

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2 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

 

You think Puerto Rico is next? There is a lot to cover there.

This show could be endless. He's got a lot left in Italy and the sky would be the limit afterwards. (There's be more to discover and explore in Europe and then he could move overseas; Arabian Peninsula, Middle East, Asia, South America, Middle America, Carribean...) The question is, if he'd want to do that. I kind of hope he does because he is a great "host" but he does have a connection to Italy, so, I'm not sure.

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Maybe if he's not getting as many good roles or the ratings are good enough that CNN could pay him pretty well, he'd transition to this and go beyond Italy.  Like he said in the Florence/Tuscany episode, if the show went well he might be able to splurge more.

 

The advantage he has with Italy is that he's liked over there because they recognize him from the movies, which often involve Italian-American characters -- he doesn't really speak the language that well, it seems.

If he went to another country, he might be seen more as just another obnoxious American.

 

Though in these episodes, they often had him filming scenes with people who are suppose to be his friends.  That's believable, since he probably went to Italy a lot over the course of his life.

Does he have friends in France or Spain?  He would definitely have a lot of friends in the UK.

 

Bourdain also had a lot of "friends" on his shows over the years.  But I wonder how many of them became friends through the show.

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10 hours ago, Robert Lynch said:

You think Puerto Rico is next? There is a lot to cover there.

No. Again if they are doing what he literally says in intro every week this show has 2 mores seasons just in Italy. Don’t think they did porchetta in Rome so probably will get crispy pork skin in Abruzzo.

Edited by biakbiak
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I was fascinated by the train that rode on rails from Calabria, right on to the ferry to Sicily, and then back onto the rails to travel the island.  I've been on several ferries where we drove our car right onto and off the boat; I've taken the AutoTrain to Florida, but there your car is treated as cargo. It's loaded separately and you're not in it! You take your seat on the train, or in our case we had a family cabin.  But, I'd never before seen anything like the transfer Stanley's train made. That was definitely cool!  I love train travel and I so wish that we had a much better passenger rail system in the U.S.

I had to look it up.
https://blog.eurail.com/sicily-train-ferry/
 

Quote

There are direct trains from Rome or Naples to various destinations in Sicily. It’s a unique journey. The train is transported on a ferry across the Straits of Messina before being split into two parts and continuing on the rail tracks in Sicily – one heading west and the other east. You can take a direct air-conditioned Intercity train to Sicily from Rome or Naples, or connect in these cities from across Italy. It’s a 9 hour journey from Naples to Palermo, or 11.5 hours from Rome. You can also disembark at other destinations in Sicily. We got off at Milazzo (6.5 hours from Naples) to take a ferry over to the gorgeous Aeolian islands, before continuing down to Palermo a few days later.

You could also stop at the scenic beach town of Cefalu on the way to Palermo, or travel to the eastern side of the island to beautiful Taormina, Catania (the base for visiting Mt Etna) or historic Siracusa. After traveling slowly down to the “toe” of Italy’s boot, the train reaches Villa San Giovanni where it is split into two parts and rolled onto the ferry. It’s an impressive feat of engineering. This can take a while and our carriage lost power (no lights or air conditioning) while they loaded us on, which added an element of adventure to the experience!

Once the train is on the ferry the trip across the water to Messina on Sicily only takes about 30 minutes. You can stay seated in your train carriage in the ferry’s hold. Or you can head up on deck for some fresh air and to enjoy the views of Sicily. Just don’t forget your way back to your train!

Moving a train onto a ferry and off again is quite a feat and it takes some time. Trains on this route are often delayed. Ours was about an hour late, so make sure you take that into account when planning any onward travel.

 

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1 hour ago, ProudMary said:

I was fascinated by the train that rode on rails from Calabria, 

Me too. I've never seen/been on a train ferry. That must be fun.

1 hour ago, ProudMary said:

right on to the ferry to Sicily, and then back onto the rails to travel the island.  I've been on several ferries where we drove our car right onto and off the boat; I've taken the AutoTrain to Florida, but there your car is treated as cargo. It's loaded separately and you're not in it!

In Europe (Germany, Austria, Spain) you drive the car onto the train yourself. Or, at least, you used to. I believe they cancelled those overnight Auto Trains a few years ago. (At least, the ones between Germany and Austria. Don't know about Spain).

Austria also has a tunnel where they shuttle you through on a train. I think the first couple of times, we even stayed in our car but I'm not sure anymore.

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That train ferry is a long slog and you arrive in Messina, not a big popular destination, so you'd have to continue on train to Taormina or somewhere else.

They also have regular ferries from Naples but I think that's an overnight trip.

I think the coolest thing I just heard is that Norway is going to build a tunnel in a mountain ... for ships.

 

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6 hours ago, aghst said:

I think the coolest thing I just heard is that Norway is going to build a tunnel in a mountain ... for ships.

 

The Norwegians know how to build tunnels! We took the Flam train that enters a mountain tunnel high up and curves around inside the mountain. You emerge at the base of the mountain, at a fjord. 

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I'm going to put pasta alla Norma on my list. I already have my own sauce made with spices/garlic in there, so it's a matter of getting the eggplant right and finding where I can get the good cheese. 

Donkey hard pass. 

 

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I caved! Bought "The Tucci Cookbook" on my Amazon Kindle Fire! 

I'm  looking forward to making "Maria Rosa's Sauce"!

Because  of this show, today I went to my local Italian store and bought authentic San Marzano canned tomatoes; NJ-farm-made (friend of store owner) guanciale; and pistachio mortadella (never had this "lunchmeat" in all my born Sicilian-American days! OMG. I now understand Stanley's virtual speechlessness when he tastes something  amazing!). 

Edited by LennieBriscoe
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1 hour ago, LennieBriscoe said:

I caved! Bought "The Tucci Cookbook" on my Amazon Kindle Fire! 

I'm  looking forward to making "Maria Rosa's Sauce"!

Because  of this show, today I went to my local Italian store and bought authentic San Marzano canned tomatoes; NJ-farm-made (friend of store owner) guanciale; and pistachio mortadella (never had this "lunchmeat" in all my born Sicilian-American days! OMG. I now understand Stanley's vitual speechlessness when he tastes something  amazing!). 

Let us know how Maria Rosa's sauce turns out. Is it like a Bolognese sauce?

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