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the Italian way

I am back home from my trip to Turin, where I was given the opportunity to give a talk about incense, in my perfumes and also a bit in general that is. The presentation was in the framework of the “circolo dei lettori“. For those of you who speak Italian (I don’t, unfortunately): Here ‘s a short overview in the Italian newspaper STAMPA.

It was fun. Before starting with my presentation, with the hundred or so attendants already in the room, ready to hear my story, I burnt some incense. That was a first for me. The idea was to create a mysterious and scented environment for my incense talk. I think it worked. There was smoke and it was a nice entry point into the world of incense. One of the points in my talk was the fact that incense in perfumery actually means “olibanum”, extracts of incense resins, made to use in perfumery and cosmetic applications. So yes: perfumers normally do not put the resin into their creations. We work with the steam distilled extracts, or Carbon Dioxide extracts of Boswellia serrata, in the case of Incense extrême and Incense rosé.

It was a wonderful opportunity. And: Italy is different. Italian perfume lovers are different. There is this incredible appreciation of all things fragrant. There is the appreciation of artisanal perfumes. And there is a curiosity that I always find amazing and lovely. I feel very much at home there. And, just to mention this, too: Turin has about the highest density of perfumeries offering rare perfumes. I visited 4 niche perfumeries, offering rare and selective perfumes, all within a radius of 1 km, in the center of Turin. How cool’s that? And if I say niche perfumeries: I really mean niche. Rare. Selective. No xyz (your favorite pseudo niche brand here). There really IS an appreciation for artisanal indie scents.

No wonder, Italy is the country of slow food, too. It all fits together.

Coming home, I decided to have a culinary phase-out, and cooked us a nice tomato risotto. And as October was mild and felt mostly like summer: I used my niche and rare tomatoes, home grown by me, in my little urban farming experiment, pampered through a wet summer in Zurich.

And there again: Good things in life are simple. Today’s picture shows you part of what went into the risotto. It does not show the red wine (just a bit) that goes in there, the cream and the cheese that follow towards the end (Parmesan, of courses), and salt and pepper. In general, I would say, the Italian cuisine is simple. Simply the best ingredients that need to be given some time to cook. And some imagination. Et voilà. (a starting point for a recipe, for instance, you find here, in the NY times.)

The same is true for perfumery. Just the best ingredients. Time and some imagination…