I recently read Stanley Tucci’s new book, “Taste: My Life Through Food.” I have never met him, and I probably never will, but I wanted to say a couple of things about this book, which I really did enjoy. First (and this is a pet peeve of mine), if you make a pun, it is intentional. When you write “no pun intended” or even the unnecessary “pun intended,” it just doesn’t make any sense. Give the reader credit for recognizing the pun and know that they will derive a sense of satisfaction from “getting it” without being hit over the head by the cue that means “get it?”
Second: as an actor, he ought to know the real definition of a vomitorium. It does not mean what he thinks it means here. Every theater and stadium has them. This term refers to the exits through which actors or audience members enter or leave, often just called “the vom.”
But nitpicking aside, at the end of the book Tucci writes about his almost perfect recovery from the cancer and treatment that altered his ability to eat somewhat normally. This really struck a chord with me, particularly this passage: “Whatever I ate had to contain a certain amount of moisture in or around it, otherwise it took quite a while to get it down my throat or I just couldn’t eat it at all.”
And further: “For everything that entered my mouth, I’d have to calculate what I’d need to augment it with in order to swallow it without without choking.” He writes about often preferring to eat alone, away from his family, due to his embarrassment or frustration about not being able to eat without fear.
I’ve written a few times about my similar reactions to eating after I had the surgery that removed a third of my palate and part of my upper jaw. The roof of my mouth is covered with a hard plastic appliance that covers up the hole, but doesn’t provide the moisture necessary for foods that require it in order to be thoroughly enjoyed. Also, because of lingering (and permanent) numbness in my front teeth and lips on one side, I can’t bite anything directly and also can’t feel if my food has landed where I intended it to go. All this is to say that Tucci put into words the very same things I have gone through and continue to deal with nearly four years after my jaw surgery.
When someone puts these complicated feelings into words and you have an aha moment reading them…well, I had to write about it. Thank you, Stanley Tucci. I hope you enjoy all the things you CAN eat from now on!