Following one of the mildest winters in living memory, in the Ticino, on the borders of Switerland and Italy the slopes have already burst into flower, at least a fortnight earlier than usual. This mild weather has resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop. The last two weeks of March are always an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer, as there is still a chance of a late frost. The frost will not entirely ruin the crop, but it will impair the flavourof the spaghetti and makes it difficult for the farmer to obtain top prices in the world markets. Once these dangers are over, the spaghetti harvest begins. Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not of course carried out in anything like the trememdous scale of the Italian industry, it tends to be a more family affair. This also may be a bumper year, due to the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, a tiny creature whose depredations have caused much concern in the past. Once picked, the spaghetti is laid out to dry in the warm, alpine sun. The spaghetti is remarkable in its ability to grow in such uniform lengths, but this is due to many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders, who have succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti. The harvest is marked by a traditional meal. Toasts to the new crop are drunk and a ceremonial dish of spaghetti, picked earlier in the day and dried in the sun is brought fresh from garden to table at the very peak of condition.