‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ returns with season 2

Stanley Tucci, left, and Fabio Picchi in “Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy” 2021. picture IMDb

Stanley is back. The writer/actor/director is back in Italy in season 2 of his popular show. The fun starts right when I started my “Speak Italian” online. It’s not exactly a coincidence, but it will help to listen to Stanley as he chats with his Italian guests.

Stanley has been traveling around Italy since he was a kid, and now he’s covering all the fun places we’ve all dreamed of visiting in Italy this summer.

Oh, I’m reminded that there won’t be a summer in Italy for me or for the Central Mainers this year, thanks to the many varieties of pandemic obstacles to overcome.

I know, I never really planned to dine in Tuscany, Milan, Sicily, Rome and Naples, or anywhere else on this fabulous “boot”.

So it’s a pleasure to join our favorite Italian actor (“Julie & Julia”, “The Devil Wears Prada”) as he hides us in his backpack and smuggles us in a short season 2 (4 segments) but exciting.

It’s always good to see Italy in Tucci’s company, as he takes us aboard a camera-laden gondola to scour Venice. This is where after a few bites and slugs of vino, I wanted to head back to the hotel and take a nap.

I continue to enjoy the pasta meals in every region, the wines in every city, the walks in the squares, but the Venice opening might not be your favorite.

It opens on a happy note. We are treated to Cicchetti with its parade of tapas of bacalao (cod, not my favourite) Fegato (liver), moeche (soft-shelled crabs) sardines and assorted hams and cheeses, laid delicately on tiny pieces of fried polenta. Yum.

Then we paddle the canal to the thousand-year-old Rialto fish market to pick up octopus and squid and learn how to make the next dish. Prepare yourselves.

First, Stanley must remove the ink sacs from the cuttlefish to stain the dish black. Black pasta? Yes, Stanley squeezes the black blood out of the fish while we close our eyes.

We’re told you can get your own squid and do your own squeeze. Don’t let children watch.

But we get my favorite calamari, Hugo d’anatra, cinnamon orange duck rags, blessed with white wine and tossed with pappardelle pasta. Are you still hungry?

My favorite? Golden spaghetti topped with real edible gold leaf. Don’t sweat, Stanley always takes the note.

There is more. We see Stanley crunch on something that looks like a large benign praying mantis, and we hear the crunch.

Later, we join Stanley, shivering with cold, as he follows the bear Igor Biacini, deep in the woods as he hunts truffles, and we learn that a rare white truffle can sell for $105,344 in auction in Hong Kong, and maybe a little cheaper at Hannaford.

Don’t rush, you won’t find them in the Maine woods.

Unfortunately, there are only four segments of this Tucci delight shown on CNN on Sundays at 9 p.m. Enjoy it.

JP Devine from Waterville is a former theater and film actor.

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