Spaghetti all’eternità.

Many, many years ago, I was still at university, my parents spent some time in Rome, they visited churches, had gelati and Campari, once settled in, they still had gelati and Campari, but visited fewer churches – dolce far niente, what can I say – and wanted to move as soon as possible, which is quite understandable, in my opinion, people who don’t want to move to Rome when in Rome are not to be trusted, or are they? Anyway, at that time, a former colleague of theirs was living in Rome as a correspondent for a German newspaper, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and invited them over to his place where he changed my mother’s life forever: he made the first spaghetti my mother would not only tolerate, but would prepare in the exact same way as soon as she was back home. You have to know that my mother’s spaghetti bolognese were actually quite good, as a child I even loved them, but she would never have some herself, too boring, she’d say, Klaus’ spaghetti all’amatriciana, however, were different, they were sensational, all that bacon, the fresh sage, the chillies, the grated pecorino, all that was much more to my mother’s liking, she brought home vast amounts of DeCecco pasta, the brand Klaus used, in these days totally unknown in Germany, totally, I very much blame Klaus for that brand’s international success, and the design and colour combo of their packaging at that time, yellow and turquoise, which I loved, but that’s another story, anyway, for these last 25 years, we’ve had this dish over and over again, it’s still called The Roman Recipe, and I have absorbed it so well, one might say, it’s part of my DNA. What can I say, everything Roman seems to be eternal.

Happy Christmas in Switzerland.

Germany is covered with Christmas markets from Berlin to Nuremberg, from Hamburg to Munich, from Dresden to Cologne, and back. None of which, however, has the serene, calm and happy atmosphere of Zurich in Christmas time. In Switzerland, nobody’s in panic or a hurry or both, everybody’s enjoying life and the delights of this blissful season. Zurich’s just the most wonderful place to be this time of year. (On a side note: I was paid 20,000,000.00 Swiss Francs to tell you so, so you better believe me. Otherwise, I have to pay it all back.)

Toughen up!

After a day of work in the garden—and more importantly: in the rain—one cannot expect me to carb up with caviar blinis, can one? When you feel like a lumberjack, eat like a lumberjack, I say. Sautéd beans, sausage, potatoes, and lots and lots of marjoram is the heartiest way of getting one’s strength back. And don’t forget to have a beer with it instead of the usual claret…

Fruit sala-la-la-la-la-la-lad.

Fruit salad for dessert is a really joyous occasion. It’s so healthy! Full of all sorts of fruits from all over the world: pears, bananas, kiwis, apples, oranges, and, well, take whatever fruit you like. And then there are some very energetic rum raisins in it… They, along with the fresh-pressed-orange-and-lemon-juice-and-williams-pear-schnapps-dressing, take away the fear you might lead the miserable life of a health-absorbed puritan. Bon appétit and cheers!

Heaven on a plate.

Sometimes, when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold, I feel a glow just thinking of Sprüngli’s Himbeertorte and the way it once looked on my balcony’s marble table in Zurich. The raspberries were red and firm and tasted like real raspberries, grown on a real field, not like these wannabe raspberries from God-knows-where, that just look good, but taste like, well, nothing, like chewable air if you do need a reference. The rest of it was sweet and soft, a creamy delight with a hint of almonds, and just to be fair, I’m giving you a similar reference: to me, it tasted like a chewable 1998 Château Yquem.

Castles in the air.

I guess, when you’re a king, you won’t ever have to built a single castle in the air, instead you might even built them out of thin air. Just for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha-ha. To be fair, Frederick the Great built some of them, like the Neue Palais, for other reasons, for real statesmanly reasons like entertaining other kings or have a ball with diplomats, ambassadors, and such, but Sans Souci, he did built for nothing but pleasure. In winter, the joyfulness of it all might be less visible, but the architectural finesse of the ensemble is to be experienced at its very best.

Walking on sunshine.

After one of the hottest summers ever, I expected myself to—for once!—enjoy the rainy days of November. Alas, there is no rain. Not a drop of it. There’s nothing but sun. Blue sky, green pastures, singing birds, warm air, this autumn looks and feels like spring, an exceptionally beautiful one at that. And so I’m able to continue to take my constitutional after lunch in that blissfulness called the countryside. The only bad thing about it, the whole thing gives you an appetite, something I wanted to avert at any cost.