May 25 ~  Little Secrets Women & Beauty

"Cooking is an act of love, a gift, a way of sharing with others the little secrets--piccoli segreti--that are simmering on the burners." ~ Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren

It is no piccoli segreti that screen legend Sophia Loren (1934-) loves to cook and even wrote a charming book about the dishes she has fixed for famous friends over the years called, Recipes and Memories (1998).

"Don't be a slave to recipes," she advised. "Let your convictions, and above all, love, guide you."

Born Sofia Scicolone in Rome, Italy, Loren had the nickname Stechetto--the stick--as a child. She met husband Carlo Ponti, a well-known film director, while competing in a Rome beauty contest. With carlo, Sophia blossomed.

"The only person who understands me is Carlo," she said. "If you could see him through my eyes you would see the most graceful man in the world."

Her international success included an Oscar for Two Women (1961). Loren's love for cooking is tied to her rich Italian heritage. "Everything you see," she once proclaimed proudly. "I owe to spaghetti."

Recognized by the Italian government for her culinary skill, Loren is a passionate cook who used to prepare meals for the cast and crew on movie locations, usually about 70 people.

She said that actor Marcello Mastroianni, her co-star in 12 films, loved her Fagioli con le Cotiche (beans flavored with a pork rind); Clark Gable, too, "adored Neapolitan cooking;" and Richard Burton was addicted to gelo di anguria (watermelon).

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," she once said. "I don't think I am beautiful, at least not in the classical way." Calling her face "interesting," she said her attraction always came from her attitude and body.

Robert A. HeinleinCelebrate life's piccoli segreti, simmering on the burners.