If you found this via The Menu Pages, welcome!
Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to pack everything up and move to Italy? A nice dreamy fantasy, but what would that new life really be like? It helps to have a Marin home to sell to make this a reality, sure. Still, I enjoyed reading actor Michael Tucker's chronicle of buying a cottage in the Umbrian countryside because he is obsessed with food and cooking. His passion is evident in every word, and his memory of each meal--with ever present vino, of course-- is fun and enjoyable. He has a constant internal debate about what to find or eat for his next meal, and admits to having a "greedy, gluttonous beast" that lies within. Reviewing the eating possibilities is always part of the fun. The reader gets to know Tucker and his wife Jill Eikenberry, who seem to be filled with love and joy even after decades of living and acting together. They've got the acting chops but are thankfully down to earth, fun folks, who lack snobbery or pretension.
Many readers who swoon over food may easily relate to Tucker's food and wine chronicles on all counts. His main priority while traveling and visiting new places matches those of "foodies": to find the best food spots. Sightseeing isn't necessarily as important as sourcing one's next meal, and sometimes the fun is in the journey of discovery. As Tucker puts it while describing one Italian outing, "Our itinerary skirted churches, castles, museums and such, and focused in a very direct way on food and wine." Having a new town and home in the Italian countryside gives him the luxury of time to meet and get to know local butchers, wine makers, restaurateurs, and the like. He also makes friends with a "merry throng" of fun and food loving ex-pats who are down for the best pizza, pasta or other native dish. It's an enjoyable trip to learn about, and Tucker rightfully knows he's lucky.
During his travels and life in the country side, he learns about truffle dogs, prosciutto, olive oil, strongozzi (a round noodle), cheese making, the rules of eating great gelato, and how to negotiate and speak in somewhat rough Italian. Risotto is still "the most magical cooking process," and one of the many tasty things he explores. Life is great, but hurdles do exist. There are permits and waits for their dream cottage to become a reality, but the anticipation seems to be par for the course, and a dose of reality. Their rustico inevitably becomes a haven for relaxation and enjoyment (yes, Tucker and Eikenberry still have an active sex life that he is not coy about), and seems like an ideal way to live and learn in a new country. How nice to have "time pass(es) gently; there's no sense of hurry or direction."
L.A. Law fans will enjoy learning Hollywood tidbits. The couple's shared history includes time in Marin and NYC, which is fun to hear about, too. Tucker and Eikenberry have participated in hippy dippy counseling sessions that may amuse and tickle. As they settle in for more simple adventures, it's easy to be lulled into appreciating their shared goals and way of life. The only burning question that may remain is, "How can I end up where they are?"
Find out more in person when Tucker and Eikenberry are featured at the Commonwealth Club on Wednesday July 25. Tickets are $8-$15, and check in begins at 11:30 a.m. If I didn't have to cater, I'd be all over this one.