How Audrey Hepburn Stayed Thin – Despite Her Pasta 'Addiction'
"She would eat it almost every day," says her son Luca Dotti
Behind the little black dress and oversize sunglasses was an Audrey Hepburn that very few knew. The star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, who left Hollywood behind in the late ’60s to focus on having a family, was also a mom who loved big plates of pasta, small bites of chocolate and quiet nights at home in front of the TV, eating her favorite junk food – pasta with ketchup.
“She was crazy about the pasta,” her younger son, Luca Dotti, 45, remembers in an exclusive story in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. He has written a new book, Audrey at Home, featuring her recipes, over 250 personal photos and sweet memories of his beloved mother. “She would eat it almost every day,” he notes. “Her absolute favorite was spaghetti with tomato sauce. She could live on that alone.”
Of his mother’s famously slender figure, Luca says: “My mother was very good at listening to her body. She was lucky with her physique but she had normal plates of pasta.”
As he writes in his book, which is exclusively excerpted in this week’s PEOPLE, “Mum had a serious pasta addiction. She couldn’t do without pasta.”
Inside Audrey at Home, which he calls a “kitchen biography,” are her recipes for her favorite pasta al pomodoro, chocolate cake, pesto pasta (which she made when Valentino came to visit) and pasta with ketchup, which she made for her son, he says, “when no one was around.”
Despite her pasta indulgences, Hepburn remained disciplined. “Snacks didn’t really exist in our household,” says Luca, whose father was Hepburn’s second husband, Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti. (She also had an older son, Sean Ferrer, from her first marriage, to actor Mel Ferrer.) “She was very strict. When it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, her feeling was, you should take your time for meals and stop what you are doing.”
Once a month, Hepburn went on a simple detox plan consisting of plain yogurt and grated apple. And the actress was a locavore, who ate from her garden long before it was fashionable. “She taught me to know your local markets,” says Luca. “She always bought what was in season. Everyone knew her in the local shops.”
Still, she enjoyed her favorite treats: squares of dark chocolate. “She ate it every day,” says Luca. “A bite or sometimes more. She had a special drawer in the house where she would put her chocolate and it was forbidden to touch. She would get upset if someone finished it before her. Chocolate was her favorite pick-me-up.”
Dotti, a graphic artist in Rome and father of three, also serves as chairman of the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, which will receive a portion of the book’s royalties. “When friends would come over from school, they would say ‘My god, you eat pasta twice a day,’ ” recalls Luca. “My mother was very lucky. She was cautious but it was the opposite of a diet or tragedy.”
For much more on Audrey Hepburn and some of her favorite recipes, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday