Blatant sexist overtones aside, the term ‘Sex Symbol’ is thrown around all too easily these days. Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson are all good and fine, but no one quite defines the term like Sophia Loren.
The legendary Italian actor, who conquered Hollywood in the 50s and 60s, has had quite an eventful life; the 80 year old has been robbed at gunpoint, spent time in prison and worked with some of the most iconic actors of the 20th century – all things that she has written about in her soon-to-be-published memoirs, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.
In a book full of fascinating anecdotes, one lighter, happier story involves Egypt’s own Omar Sharif, stale sandwiches and eggplants on the set of 1967 film, C’era una volta (More Than a Miracle).
In a serialisation of her memoirs – which is set to be released on November 3rd – British newspaper, The Daily Mail, published this uber-cute story.
"When Omar Sharif and I worked together on More Than a Miracle, we held a cooking contest. As I think of the food today, it still makes my mouth water.
Omar was full of life, overflowing with ideas. We’d been born on opposite shores of the Mediterranean - he in Egypt, I in Italy - so we shared a love for the same foods, fragrances and colours.
But, back in 1967, the food on film sets wasn’t wonderful. Indeed, on this one in Rome, we used to be given a ‘brown bag’ lunch consisting of stale and rancid sandwiches.
One day Omar looked up at me with his beautiful deep, dark eyes and sighed. ‘How can anyone eat this rubbish? How I’d love to be eating some of my mother’s eggplants right this minute.’
I burst out laughing, and told him: ‘You can’t imagine how good my mother’s are. They’re the most delicious eggplants in the world!’
‘Oh no, Sophia,’ he replied. ‘There’s no contest when it comes to eggplants. My mother’s are unsurpassable!’
‘Do you want to bet?’ I asked. So Omar called his mother in Egypt and - without telling her why - suggested she visit him in Rome.
When she arrived, he launched his attack: ‘Mother, next week we’re having dinner with Sophia, her mother and the crew. How about cooking some eggplants?’
The woman took her task very seriously, checking out all the stalls at the market, buying an eggplant here, another one there - only the nicest ones.
As for my own mother, Mammina, she lived in Rome anyway so it didn’t take much to convince her to participate.
On the evening of the contest, we told the two cooks what they had to do. We’d appointed a makeshift jury - but it wasn’t easy to choose a winner.
Our mothers’ recipes for eggplant parmesan were very similar. Both the Italian and Egyptian dishes melted in your mouth, with a crisp crust that tickled your palate. Having subsisted so long on leathery sandwiches, we wolfed down the lot.
In the end, after a long debate, Mrs. Sharif won by a slim margin. But Mammina wasn’t at all upset. She’d found a new friend. "