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Stanley Tucci’s forbidden foods make for mouth-watering TV

I can’t explain my feelings when Stanley Tucci eats Napoli pizza with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella di bufala, says Lucy Sweet

Last week, I received the news that I have high cholesterol, and since then I have entered a pit of despair, salads and oily fish as I attempt to wrestle back control of my escalating midlife lipids. This lifestyle change is a bit jarring, especially as I was planning on having a big old blowout for my 50th. Now it looks like my birthday cake will be made with Benecol and decorated with statins in the shape of a skull. 

And it’s only now that I’ve had to cut back on all the things I hold dear (RIP Mr Kipling), that I realise how much lard there is in the world. You’re all MAD FOR IT. Everyone is practically bursting at the seams with cheese. The streets are paved with pastry and tree branches are made of sausages and rivers of mayonnaise run through fields of butter.

Every dish on every menu is chock full of cream and bacon and I now know what it must be like to be vegan, having the choice of one, lone crap thing on the menu – and even then it’s got goat’s cheese in it. Yes, as if being an invisible middle-aged woman with frizzy hair and a face like a tomato wasn’t bad enough, it turns out the world is basically a pie, and I’m not allowed to have a slice. 

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Just because I can’t touch doesn’t mean I can’t look, though. So, now that fun has been surgically removed from my life I need to get my kicks from watching other people make and eat forbidden foods. 

Like Stanley Tucci, for example. Everyone loves Stanley, don’t they? He’s the charming, sexy, urbane, diminutive film star we can all agree on. All he has to do is say “I’m Stanley Tucci and I’m Italian on both sides” while walking down the street in a pair of spotless white chinos, and everyone in the world melts like mozzarella.

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy is a global hit, because why wouldn’t it be? Watching him getting stuck in, speaking Italian and not being a massive pain in the arse, you realise how clueless and condescending British TV chefs can be, and how much those toothless old pasta-making ladies Jamie Oliver used to visit absolutely hated his guts. Tucci’s narration is like a self-assured New Yorker editorial, he actually seems able to speak to people without patronising them, and his delivery is as smooth as cacio e pepe. 

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But although Stan is the man, it’s the food I really fancy. No, I don’t just fancy it, I want to marry it, have children with it, renew our vows like Seal and Heidi Klum, get old and die with it. I can’t explain my feelings when Stanley eats genuine Napoli pizza, with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella di bufala.

I mean, it makes me cry. I yearn. My arteries creak. When he sniffs a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, describes mortadella as silky and garlicky, and scoffs prosciutto in Parma, I quiver uncontrollably. And don’t get me started on the Roman breakfast doughnuts with a giant dollop of cream, which I will dream about for ever and possibly wake up in hospital having eaten my own pillow.

However, what I want to know is, how come he gets away with it and I don’t? How come I’m on the bleedin’ Flora Pro Activ and he’s scampering around like a bronzed, bald faun in his little scarf, chugging pork fat by the gallon?

I don’t know what your cholesterol levels are, Stanley, but any tips would be gratefully received. In the meantime, while he dines like a king, my dinner is a crap sweet potato with dry tuna.

Buon appetito. 

Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy is on BBC iPlayer.

Lucy Sweet is a freelance journalist

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