Flowers are beautiful, but orchids…

All flowers are beautiful.

Roadside wildflower Ostia Lido
Roadside wildflower, Ostia Lido, Rome. Italy

I love them all, from the humble wild flowers growing in meadows and in little patches of dirt along our busy streets to blooming rose bushes in curated gardens. My mother is very gifted with plants and flowers and since I was a little girl wherever we lived we had flower pots on the balconies or blooming plants in the garden. We had calla lilies, we had roses and we had geraniums. Lots and lots of geraniums, red, pink and white. On the terrace of my apartment I have petunias, with vibrant purple flowers.

Some flowers are simply beautiful to look at, others also smell divinely, others yet are delicious to eat (have you ever tried fried zucchini flowers? I will post the recipe in the next days)… flowers are beautiful, but orchids have a special place in my heart.

Orchids and me, Singapore 1980
Orchids and me, Singapore 1980

When I was living in Singapore in 1980 I had the chance to start falling in love with orchids. They were so different from the flowers I was used to at home, their colors and their forms were fascinating. At the time there were not a lot of orchids available commercially to be cultivated at home in Europe, surely not in Italy for a girl of my means.

It was only a long time later when I was able to finally have orchids to care for in my home – and in the office as well.  Now that I don’t work anymore I have a corner of my living room completely dedicated to my 24 orchids.

White and Yellow Phal Blooms

Most of them are Phalaenopsis – the easiest ones to care for – some of them are new and some of them are more than 12 years old.

I have a couple of Cymbidium plants as well, but I seem to get along with Phals better …

Mostly my orchids have been given me as gifts: the people in my life know that I love potted plants above cut flowers and that orchids are my absolute favourites. I love the colors and the shapes of the blooms.

My Coconut Orchid
My Coconut Orchid

The newest addition to my army of orchids is a perfumed Maxillaria Tenuifolia – also called Coconut Orchid – whose flowers smell like coconut to some and like Piña Colada to others.

The flowers are not as beautiful as the Phal ones in my opinion, but it is really something to look at, fascinating and exotic.

This year for the first time I have had a total of 6 Keiki -little orchid clones that the plant generates and that can be replanted. I have started studying the best way to go about the replanting and I am excited about trying it!

The seal in the water

It was a beautiful day and I decided on the spur of the moment to go visit the Zurich Zoo with my little boy – 6 years old at the time. We both love to go and have a season ticket so we go often. I asked my son to bring a little notepad and a pencil to draw the animals he liked best and I brought my Nikon with me.

As always I took like a million pictures of animals and flowers, but this one I particularly like. Maybe it’s the green of the water or the serious expression of the seal…


Today is international Carbonara Day.

What is Carbonara, and why do we have an international Carbonara day?

Well, spaghetti alla carbonara is a recipe that historically has not been well understood, even in Italy itself. It calls for very few ingredients, but many amateur chefs (as well as a couple of well known ones) always seem to add on something or other. Last year on this day a French cooking video started circulating on the web, giving a very appalling version of the berated recipe… This created quite a stir in Italy and the international carbonara day is the result.

What do we need for a good carbonara?

  1. Very good durum wheat pasta – (De Cecco, Barilla, Rummo), spaghetti or rigatoni
  2. Guanciale – cured pork cheek, which is difficult to find even in Rome, so we are allowed to use Bacon as a substitute
  3. Eggs
  4. Pecorino Romano cheese – please note that while Parmigiano Reggiano is a great cheese, it has nothing to do with carbonara.
  5. Salt and pepper

That’s it? Yes. That’s it.

NO cream, NO garlic, NO onion, No extra virgin olive oil, NO LEMON…. nothing else.

For 4 people you will need 400gr of pasta, 200gr bacon, 3 eggs and 200gr grated Pecorino Romano cheese. You will need a large pot to cook the pasta in and a large skillet to fry the bacon first and toss the pasta later.

Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water according to instructions on the packet, drain it saving about a cup of water on the side. Cut the bacon in stripes and fry it in its own fat, then toss the cooked pasta in the pan. Add the beaten eggs and the grated Pecorino Romano cheese and continue tossing for a minute adding two spoonfuls of the saved pasta cooking water. The eggs, with the bacon fat and the cheese will create the sauce. Add some black pepper, Buon Appetito!

PS Some people will let the eggs cook…. well this is a no-no.