I fell in love with Stanley Tucci – in a culinary sense – watching the first episode of his celebrated Searching For Italy TV series. Since then, I’ve eagerly consumed any newsy bit that surfaced about him. But now, Tucci’s challenging a sacred institution…
Tucci has a demeanor – especially that irresistable little-boy grin – that urges you to trust him immediately. Implicitly. At least on food-oriented issues. And I have – until now.
But his latest socio-culinary assertion has left me torn.
Pushing my limits
I clicked on the Yahoo! News story immediately, based solely on Stanley’s smiling face in the photo. Didn’t even read the brief ‘teaser’ description. And IF I had, I probably would have wondered what was going on.
It turns out, Tucci has secretly been harbouring secret progressive and liberal tendencies, of which we have not previously seen any indication. How serious is this break with his carefully cultivated image as the carved-in-stone, ultimate guardian of the traditional?
Off the charts
My own humble assessment of this new development is, it’s totally off the known charts. Unprecedented. Incomprehensible. But if we accept that he’s said such a shocking thing publicly – in an interview with the venerated and revered Allrecipes.com, no less – we must do our best to deal with it.
What he said
“Sometimes there’s nothing better than a great grilled cheese,” Tucci said in an exclusive interview with Allrecipes. But when interviewer Baily Fink asked whether he preferred canned tomato soup or his own, homemade version with the classic sammy… Tucci floored her.
““Yeah, [I serve it] with soup — with pea soup,” he continued. “[It’s] one of the best things in the world.”
What? Did he really say that? How could he?
Yes, he said that…
And what follows is a précis and critique of Tucci’s version of Soup and Grilled Cheese.
Another surprise! The cheese Tucci chooses for his ultimate grilled sammy is not some exotic European curd – as some self-proclaimed Grilled Cheese aficionados insist. It’s a single slice of plain old American (Processed) cheese. Okay. He does admit that he’ll And he wants it on plain, white sliced bread. Okay. He does admit that he’ll default to actual, genuine Cheddar if he has to. And he wants it on plain, old, white sliced bread.
The key to making his perfect ‘nothing better than’ grilled cheese is a weight of some sort. He suggests a small cast iron skillet. It’s not a proper Grilled Cheese unless it’s been thoroughly compressed, and he cheese has been firmly integrated with the bread. On another hand, using a weight also ensures complete, even contact between the cooking surface and the sandwich.
Of course, Tucci insists on making his own Pea Soup. The recipe, along with detailed instructions for the sammy, are included in the Allrecipes story linked above.
But he maestro does offer the following sweeping description: ““It’s chicken broth — you can do it with vegetable broth or even ham broth — onions, a little bit of garlic, peas, and baked ham or boiled ham chunks. You put those in at the end, and then you make some croutons…”
As usual, he makes it sound easy. Easy, peasy.
I’ve just read the Allrecipes interview. So I haven’t had a chance to try the Pea Soup / Grilled Cheese combo. But on reflection, I think I could enjoy it. Maybe even come to love it. MAybe even as much as I (still, in spite of the shock) love Stanley…
~ Maggie J.