In his memoir, Stanley Tucci recalls his encounter with an iconic French sausage that’s shocked generations of American tourists.
I just read Stanley Tucci’s new book, Taste: My Life Through Food. It’s delicious storytelling. He’s an urbane, knowledgeable man about all things food. He was raised in a food-obsessed family long before the term “foodie” was coined. He’s the creator of Big Night, author of several delightful cookbooks and, most recently, host of the wildly popular CNN docuseries Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (renewed for a second season, natch).
And perhaps most relevant in today’s world, Tucci is Instagram’s reigning cocktail-shaking/cooking zaddy daddy.
Stanley Tucci In France
Well, Tucci doesn’t know everything, it turns out, and he’s happy to tell you all about that, too. He shares an anecdote that reveals even he (and Meryl Streep, for good measure) can fall into the culinary trap that has ensnared so many American tourists before him.
Streep and Tucci were in France to promote Julie & Julia, in which they portrayed even more urbane food lovers: Julia and Paul Child. They found time to tour the D-Day beaches of Normandy (Tucci is a lifelong WWII history buff), followed by lunch at a local bistro.
What kind of cook was Julia Child, really?
What could possibly go wrong?
Perusing the menu of local dishes, Tucci’s eye fell on andouillette – a type of local sausage, the proprietor informed him. Hearing that, almost everyone at the table ordered it.
If only I’d been there, I would have said, “Non, non, non!”
I’ve Tasted His Pain
More than 20 years ago, on a sunny afternoon at a Parisian bistro’s sidewalk table in the Marais. I ordered salade de chèvre chaud – warm goat cheese salad – and a glass of Chablis. It’s a perfect lunch.
Richard opted for something “different.”
“Ooooh, I’ll have the andouillette,” he declared. Like Tucci, he figured it was some French version of the smoked Cajun andouille sausage he loved. (“Well, smaller,” Tucci recalls of his own expectation. “You know, ‘ette.’ Andouillette. Small.”)
What arrived shocked us as much as it would later shock Tucci, Streep and their party: an enormous sausage made of tripe and boasting a distinct, um, odour.
Our waiter had obviously been down this road many, many times. He paused and took a half-step back. “Monsieur, it’s not what you think,” he warned.
“That’s OK,” Richard replied. “I’ll give it try.”
What arrived shocked us as much as it would later shock Tucci, Streep and their party: an enormous sausage made of tripe and boasting a distinct, um, odour. Google it, if you must. (I know you will.)
“It does have a bit of the barnyard about it,” Streep noted delicately. Tucci had a more vivid – and accurate — description.
Like Stanley Tucci, Richard sampled a small bite, which he immediately spat into his napkin.
“Well, he tried to warn you,” I observed, tucking into my salad. “Maybe ‘fess up and order something else.”
Richard excused himself to visit the loo and strategize.
“There’s a dog outside the toilet,” he said upon returning. Before I could object, he wrapped the sausage up in his napkin and headed to back into the restaurant.
“Did the dog eat it?” I asked when he returned. (This was years before Rascal came into my life, because now I know, of course, the dog ate it, duh. Idiote!)
“I have to see this,” I said, hustling inside. It was France, and I was charmed by the fact that dogs are welcome everywhere, so at the very least I’d get to pet the dog.
Sure enough, there was a gorgeous, young, very happy German shepherd lounging outside the toilet. Tail waggin, she looked up at me expectantly, with telltale andouillette breath:
Plus, s’il vous plaît?