What Would Audrey Eat?

There are a good many reasons to want to be Audrey, or at least emulate her. She was gorgeous, had impeccable style, was an amazing actress and a talented dancer. She was the Gwyneth of her time. Although Gwyneth has a divorce or two to get to catch up with Audrey. I guess not everything about her life is to be coveted.

Before reading What Would Audrey Do? Timeless Lessons for Living With Grace and Style by Pamela Keogh, I had totally practical reasons I wanted to be Audrey. Namely, I wanted to eat a Danish in a LBD in front of Tiffany’s at sunrise. Seems to me like the perfect life. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you haven’t seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s and you are dead to me. Not really dead, I guess. But you ain’t living.

The format of this book is simple. Every chapter covers a different lifestyle topic and is full of the author’s Audrey-based suggestions on how to make things fabulous and anecdotes from Audrey’s life. Then comes the “Would Audrey…” segment that surmises what Audrey would do in various hypothetical situations, based on her life. It is rather repetitive. You could choose to read either section of the chapter and get the same information. All the same, if you are an Audrey-phile you would enjoy this book.

Keogh does manage to cover a lot of life territory. She writes on how to handle love, home decorating, entertaining, fashion, fitness, travel, being famous…normal stuff. A good deal of the advice is essentially to accept your fabulousness and just keep on being fabulous!! You know, if life gets you down why not surprise everyone by just jetting to Paris for art lessons! And go ahead, don’t hold back! Have a fling with that handsome millionaire! I wish I had read this sooner. If I had a nickel for every handsome millionaire I’ve turned down in favor of staying in Los Angeles and moping…

Some of Keogh’s advice is more practical. For instance, did you know that you don’t have to own amazing vases to display flowers in your home? You can use your Limoges sugar and creamers! And to think, all this time I’ve been shoving my 400 dollar sugar bowl in the junk drawer right next to my under-used diamonds.

Oh, and you will learn to iron. Provided your freezer has room for blouses.

As for food, I didn’t know what to expect. Keogh talks about how very slim Audrey was, and how she had an insane metabolism because growing up she and her family had been starving in Holland during WWII and somehow that messed up Audrey’s body. According to a lot of folks Keogh cites, Audrey could take down the food. Keogh also breezes over the fact that Audrey was pretty keen on the cigarettes and occasionally embarked on a a cigarettes/salad/beef tartar/no exercise diet. But that was when she wasn’t dancing in 21 shows a week, as she did before fame struck.

But the one thing everyone including Audrey was sure of was this: she ate a lot of pasta. She’d take down whole bowls of pasta. She was a “great eater of pasta”. Her words. Her first date with Robert Wolder involved a giant plate of pasta. Did I mention this book repeats a lot? It repeats a lot. A lot.  It was mentioned that Audrey fancied a penne alla vodka in particular when it came to pasta. May 4th was Audrey’s birthday. So Audrey, this pasta’s for you!

I consulted a lot of sources for a penne alla vodka recipes and they were all practically identical. Here is what I did. Would Audrey adapt a recipe and make it her own? Yes.

Penne alla Hepburn

  • 2 heaping tablespoons of butter
  • 1 large spring onion, chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons half and half
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/2 pound penne (cook while making sauce)
  • flat-leaf parsley

Heat butter in a big skillet until melted, then add onion and sauté until softened. Toss in the tomatoes with some salt and pepper, and let simmer until thickened and the tomatoes are breaking down. Around 10 minutes, give or take. Stir in the vodka and half and half and let heat briefly. Stir into the cooked penne. Garnish with fresh parsley.