Anything original from Sophia Loren (1934– ) is worth paying attention to, and this, her first cookbook, is a gem indeed.
A rabidly admired film actor and a woman who once proclaimed, “everything I have I owe to spaghetti,” Loren has always been passionate about cooking, and is, as we understand, heavily committed to sharing that love with her public. In the Kitchen with Love, originally published in Italian in 1971 as In Cucina con Amore, is some 350 pages with glossy color photographic inserts of the food but mostly of Ms. Loren, naturally.
The range of dishes is considerable, though largely Italian, of course, and does not succumb to any of the frivolity that often accompanies a celebrity cookbook. This is serious food from someone who knows her way around the kitchen and respects the craft.
Written in prose with glorious anecdotal asides woven in, the recipes offer much more than a means of getting food on the table. Take, for example, the recipe for méchoui—whole spit-roasted mutton—a preparation, we discover, that Loren adapted from a sheik in the Sahara while filming Legend of the Lost with John Wayne. Alternatively, you might be compelled to try the spaghetti with bay leaf that she enjoyed after her 1961 Oscar win.
The English translation (Doubleday, 1972), though more common than the Italian (Rizzoli), is still quite scarce. This copy, a hardcover first English printing with dust jacket, is in Near Fine condition, save for a few penciled marginalia from a previous owner. The jacket is a strong Very Good, lightly shelfworn and scuffed with chipping at the head and foot of the spine. A great find, a fabulous gift.