Stanley Tucci has become well known for his foodie adventures over the last year or two, but in his new memoir Taste: My Life Through Food, the Oscar nominee disclosed that while undergoing treatment for oral cancer, he could barely get down a single bite.
The actor, 60, underwent chemotherapy and radiation for seven weeks straight, and the side effects included things like vertigo and nausea.
"After a week of treatments, anything I was capable of putting into my mouth tasted like old wet cardboard," he recalled. "A few days later everything tasted like the same old wet cardboard but slathered with someone’s excrement."
Throughout his months-long treatment, he admitted that "there were times when I believed I would never ever be able to cook or enjoy a meal again with the people I love."
"I mean, if you can't eat and enjoy food, how are you going to enjoy everything else?" he questioned in his book.
Tucci also had trouble swallowing his food, which left him somewhat emaciated, prompting him to use a feeding tube for six months. Though he wouldn't be able to taste what he was eating, he was determined to keep himself healthy, so he made things like protein shakes.
Things got so bad that he even used the feeding tube to drink water, as it "burned like battery acid" while going down his throat. Six months after his last chemo treatment, the cancer was gone, but he still struggled to taste properly for the next two years, explaining that his mouth was "incredibly sensitive," especially to spicy food.
Though the experience was painful both physically and mentally, the situation made him "realize that food was not just a huge part of my life, it basically was my life."
The ordeal was what spurred him to write his new tome about cuisine, which has "always played such a significant role in my life," he told Town & Country.
"I would never write an autobiography; to me, the only way to do it was to take the most crucial common defining factor of who I am. I couldn't just write I was born in a small town, and then I went on to act. Who cares?" he explained. "It has to be everything, and there has to be a weave to it. Otherwise, it’s just like, ‘Yeah, great, you made some movies and then sometimes you didn't work and then sometimes you did.' Who cares?"