Recovering from the tumor seems to have affected some of those rituals. He cooked a risotto Milanese for his co-star, Colin Firth, when they worked together on the movie “Supernova,” released earlier this year. In an email, Firth said that it was the best he had ever had, but Tucci “was convinced it tasted awful and was mortified.”
“He simply wasn’t tasting what we were,” Firth said. “One was left to imagine how distressing this was, because most of the time he put on a very brave and matter-of-fact face.”
During his recovery, Tucci watched cooking shows, “which was weird because even the smell of food then would just make me want to throw up,” he said. “But I liked watching them. I just wanted to learn more, live vicariously through them. It was a way I was going to have that once again.”
The treatment had, oddly, delivered a culinary benefit, he said. In his 20s, he’d discovered he was lactose intolerant and couldn’t digest sugar well, either. Those problems seem to have disappeared.
But it was clear he had some way still to go. At the start of the interview in a movie theater near his home, Tucci reached into his jacket and pulled out a rooibos tea bag to add to water, explaining that normal tea had too many tannins (“It makes my mouth so dry, it’s like eating chalk”).
When he is feeling better, and when it won’t feel like work, he dreams of eating steak, pad thai, dal, sushi. Until then, his CNN series has been renewed for a second season, and there was dinner to prepare. He already knew what he was going to make.
“Just some pasta, with fresh tomato and shrimp, a little shrimp stock, some basil, and then we can throw a salad on the side,” Tucci said, looking up to the ceiling as if picturing the meal to come. His eyes glowed.