Fri­day feel­ing

Stan­ley Tucci in A Taste of Home

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Stan­ley Tucci’s taste of home Stan­ley Tucci is an actor, writer, pro­ducer, film di­rec­tor – and cook

Igrew up in Ka­tonah, New York, but my family are of Cal­abrian her­itage, so our home­cooked food al­ways had a south­ern Ital­ian char­ac­ter. Really, it’s the stupidly sim­ply stuff that’s most evoca­tive, like steak ore­ganata, pounded and sauteed with a lit­tle olive oil, but­ter, gar­lic, oregano; or pasta with gar­lic; or Sun­day ragu and meat­balls. My mom would get up early to start the ragu, slow cook­ing the sauce with pork or beef ribs, then we’d go to church – be­fore we re­alised that church is point­less – and then come home to eat it, strewn over pasta, fol­lowed by the meat­balls (not to eat them in that or­der would be crass).

But there’s this one dish that stands out above the oth­ers, one that my dad would make: uovo fra’di­avolo. It’s eggs poached in a tomato sauce, much like a mari­nara, and sweet­ened with onion. He’d make it on a Fri­day: the night that he would cook. (The rest of the time, he was the sous chef to my mom, who did the brunt

of the cook­ing.) We’d gather around this lit­tle 1940s ta­ble – I now have a larger ver­sion – with a tulip base and a formica top, and eat our Fri­day din­ner, sit­ting on lit­tle stools.

My par­ents were teach­ers so, on Fri­days, ev­ery­one was done with school and there were no thoughts of home­work. There was a light­ness to Fri­day nights. We’d eat these great, great sim­ple meals. Some­times pizza! It was the only time we were al­lowed soda, and the only time Dad would have beer in­stead of wine.

My dad really loves eggs, as do I. The smell of this dish, with the sweet­ness of the onions and to­ma­toes, was un­be­liev­able. It looked amaz­ing too: the red of the to­ma­toes, which be­come or­angey with the oil, and the eggs, be­com­ing milky and unc­tu­ous as they turn clear to white, their yolks ra­di­ant. You had to put a lid on the pan so that they steamed, to get that per­fect opaque­ness. The pan he used stays in my me­mory, too – an old one with a good cop­per bot­tom made by Re­vere Ware, which was a pop­u­lar pot and pan com­pany in the 60s and 70s. Lid re­moved, we’d eat the eggs straight away with toasted Ital­ian bread to mop up all the sauce.

God, I love it. I’m go­ing down to Florida to visit my par­ents in the next cou­ple of months and I’ll ask my dad to make it for me then. I also made it for Alan Rick­man once. He loved it. Alan loved to eat ...

Eggs in tomato sauce (uovo fra’di­avolo)

As a kid I looked for­ward to this Fri­day night meal. Not only was it un­usu­ally beau­ti­ful but its sweet flavour, thanks to the onions, would linger long af­ter the last bite.

Serves 2

60ml olive oil 1 small onion, thinly sliced 225g tinned whole plum to­ma­toes 4 large eggs Salt and black pep­per

1 Warm the olive oil in a medium-size non­stick fry­ing pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook un­til soft – about 3 min­utes.

2 Stir in the to­ma­toes, crush­ing them with your hand or the back of a slot­ted spoon as you add them to the pan. Cook un­til the to­ma­toes have sweet­ened – about 30 min­utes – stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally.

3 Gen­tly break the eggs into the pan, and cover. Cook un­til the whites are opaque and the yolks are mod­er­ately firm: about 5 min­utes. Serve im­me­di­ately, sea­soned with salt and pep­per to taste.

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