GRAPHIC BY CHARLOTTE DRESSER
Scoping out a world-class Italian meal while strolling the beautiful streets of Florence, Italy would be a pre-COVID dream if it weren’t for the new series, “Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy.”
This CNN Original Series, hosted by Stanely Tucci, takes viewers on a culinary exploration of Italy. Stanley Tucci is an actor, writer and producer most commonly known for his roles in “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Hunger Games” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Tucci begins the series in Naples and goes on to explore Rome, Bologna, Milan, Tuscany and Sicily.
In the show, Tucci visits a diverse group of people, ranging from restaurant chefs and local food producers to history professors and Italian activists. Each guest offers new insight into the complex history of Italian food, while simultaneously showcasing each region’s freshest ingredients. The genius behind this series is that it is not just a food show, but instead a platform that uses food to tap into the history and the current social climate of Italy.
In the premiere episode, Tucci begins his culinary journey in the region of Campania, where Enzo Coccia, an Italian chef, teaches Tucci how to make the perfect Neapolitan pizza. This show is one that is truly impossible to watch without getting hungry, as you can practically smell the scent of the fresh mozzarella wafting through the screen.
While exploring the Emiglia-Romagna region, Italian chef and restaurateur Massimo Bottura takes Tucci to a local creamery called Caseificio Rosola. The creamery, which is best known for its brilliant parmesan cheese, showcases their cheesemaking process and explains how it is unique to the region. A highlight of this scene is when one of the workers at the creamery plops a nearly 80-pound wheel of parmesan cheese down onto the table.
The episodes showcasing the Emiglia-Romagna region, as well as Bologna, are ones that truly capture the beauty and genius of this series. After Tucci visits the local creamery in Zocca, he meets up with Mattia Santori, one of the leaders of Italy’s Sardines political movement, to try mortadella (pork sausage). In addition to talking about the food, Santori discusses the Sardines movement, which is an anti-fascist movement that was launched in Bologna to combat the political campaign of right-wing leader, Matteo Salvini.
The episodes that got me hooked on the show were the ones where Tucci visits iconic Italian locations like Tuscany, Milan and Lake Como. These episodes were not superior to the others in the series in terms of content, but for me the nostalgic feeling I got from these episodes, having traveled to these places with my family when I was younger, put them at the top of my list. Watching Tucci eat a fresh pizza alongside Lake Como, or visit vineyards with fresh bread and olive oil, all things I got to experience when I was younger, makes this show both entertaining and reminiscent of the days of global travel.
Food is something that connects people from all over the world, and “Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy” has found a way to evoke those same emotions through a screen.
After over a year since the start of the pandemic, people are aching to travel across the world and dine out with friends. Stanley Tucci’s new series has been able to thrive because it induces hope, as it showcases travel and interaction in ways we haven’t experienced in so long. This show delivers in its purpose to showcase Italian cuisine, while also offering an escape from a world in which the pandemic has taken over.