Isabella Rossellini

The actress and author takes Rach on a tour of her tiny New York City fridge--and around the animal kingdom.
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The actress and author takes Rach on a tour of her tiny New York City fridge--and around the animal kingdom.
Isabella Rossellini

Rachael Ray: Right off the bat I see two of my favorite food groups in your fridge: Pellegrino and champagne! I drink Pellegrino every night with dinner, and champagne with weekend brunch. Are those must-haves for you, too?

Isabella Rossellini: Yes, I love sparkling waters. Italians select a flavor of water the way we pick tea here. And I have champagne so that I'm always ready to celebrate good news.

RR: What are you making with the heirloom tomatoes and basil?

IR: Either preparing a tomato salad or a fresh sauce to toss over pasta. I love the smell of basil--I actually grow it in my garden. My perfume, Manifesto, was based on the scent of basil.

RR: With a name like Isabella Rossellini, I'd assume you're a good Italian cook. Is that true?

IR: Food is a big part of my culture, so everyone knows how to cook. When I came to America and asked a babysitter to softboil an egg for my son and she didn't know how, I was shocked.

RR: Have you ever eaten anything really bizarre? I had cooked mealworms in Mexico and have eaten lots of bugs. It's trendy in the gourmet industry right now.

IR: I ate things growing up that most people never eat, like brains and kidneys. Now most foods don't seem odd to me.

RR: Are there any go-to ingredients you always keep around?

IR: Oh, yes. I always have parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil and pasta at home. When people get sick, they want chicken soup; I want spaghetti with parmesan cheese, olive oil and a bit of lemon zest. It makes me feel better every time.

RR: Do you have a most memorable meal?

IR: My mom [actress Ingrid Bergman] would make Swedish food for Christmas dinner. We'd eat meatballs, herring, salmon and potatoes. It was exotic and wonderful. I still always eat Swedish food on that holiday.

RR: So, I've seen your Green Porno films on the Sundance Channel. Why are you so passionate about this project?

IR: I wrote and directed a series of comical shorts about how animals and insects mate, and now it's been turned into a book. I dressed in animal costumes, and it was great fun. I had to be painted green from head to toe to play a praying mantis.

RR: That’s one way to go green! Well, if you could have anyone--or any creature--over for dinner, whom would you choose?

IR: I'd love to meet Darwin. He caused such controversy over whether God created the earth in six days or whether we evolved over time. I'd love to discuss that with him--what a fantastic conversation!