Actor James Gandolfini's passing yesterday has prompted an outpouring of support from fans and friends. Chef Mario Batali, the actor's college roommate from Rutgers University, said in a statement to CNN: "I am totally shocked and devastated by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends. I only hope to help his family any way I can in their grief and mourning." Gandolfini was beloved for his starring role in the series The Sopranos; a show with a surprisingly food-centric worldview.
In Gandolfini's performance and in the script, Tony Soprano's conflicted identity is often expressed through his relationship to food. Tony faints at the sight of capicola ("gabagool") and passes out while manning the grill. He racks up a huge tab at the fictional red sauce restaurant Vesuvio that he doesn't pay off. He stations an Italian mobster in the restaurant's kitchen who turns out to be a talented cheesemaker. Tony seems to constantly be opening the fridge door to pick at the endless supply of his wife's leftover pasta dishes.
Throughout the show's six seasons, Gandolfini's portrayal of Tony Soprano's obvious enjoyment of classic Italian-American cuisine was a highlight. Below, the iconic final scene at Holsten's ice cream shop in New Jersey, plus a medley of food scenes from The Sopranos:
Video: The Sopranos Finale: Final Scene
Video: Tony Soprano Really Loves Food