Ancient Mediterranean Snacks

Live from Martina Franca, Italy

It’s the year 1,000 B.C. Imagine you’re a shepherd roaming the hills of the Eastern Mediterranean, somewhere between Jericho and Damascus. Each morning at the brink of dawn, you leave your hut, taking with you provisions for the day that you prepared the previous night. They had to be nutritious and easy to carry, and you weren’t rich either. Yet you liked to snack on something delicious, as you labored under the hot sun. What kinds of foods would you have eaten? What was available to you and how did you prepare it? Let’s answer these questions together!

On Saturday 24th April at 11AM EST, join VAWAA artist Ursula to travel back in time through the art of cooking. Under Ursula's guidance, enjoy preparing (and nibbling on) a number of ancient and healthy every day snacks. Not only is Ursula an expert cook, she's also a culinary historian and archaeologist. Through this multi-sensory session, you'll be further transported by lively discussions surrounding the history and discovery of these recipes.

The menu is as follows: fried olives, crunchy roasted grain, red wine flatbread from the pan, no-bake fig cakes and a cheese dip.

All recipes are vegetarian. This session will be a fantastic introduction to traditional and sustainable cooking techniques. 

All levels are welcome and there is no prior experience required. There will be plenty of time to share, get feedback and meet other participants from around the world.

Joining us from a different time zone? Be sure to convert the time.

What you'll need

  • 1 Jar or pack of black olives in salt or brine 
  • Olive oil 
  • Garlic
  • Herbs of your choice (rosemary, parsley, sage, oregano, thyme…)
  • 1/2 cup of pearl wheat or pearl spelt
  • Salt
  • Cumin
  • 3 1⁄2 cups all purpose flour 
  • Red wine
  • 10 oz. dried figs1⁄2 cup concentrated grape juice / grape molasses
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup fresh goat or sheep cheese or, alternatively, cottage cheese or ricotta 
  • Parchment paper (in replacement of fresh fig or walnut leaves)
  • About 20 inch of string 
  • A frying pan
  • Curiosity

How to join

We'll be hosting this VAWAA Online on Zoom. We'll send link and details to join via email 1 day and again 30 mins before it begins.

About Ursula

Ursula is an archaeologist and cook, passionate about sustainability. For years, Ursula worked on excavation projects in Syria, Turkey and Egypt, where she often lived in small, traditional villages where locals would produce much of the food themselves. Inspired by this way of life, Ursula picked up a variety of recipes and traditional food preparation techniques throughout her travels.

Historic methods of producing and cooking food inspire Ursula academically, but also motivate her lifestyle. “Humanity has been able to sustain itself without extreme over-consumption for millennia, without exploiting the planet,” Ursula explains. She believes that looking back to traditional cooking techniques also encourages getting back to a more sustainable way of living. Ursula’s self-sufficient, solar-powered estate in Southern Italy, shared with her husband, harkens back to simpler times. Ursula grows most of her  food, eats fresh ingredients seasonally, raises chickens, makes wine and olive oil, and in her spare time, practices archery!

Visit her artist page to learn more about her in-person VAWAA.


"This class experience was fantastic! An intimate gathering to learn how to make homemade pasta, which was easier than I thought.  The timing was perfectly paced and Chef Ursula was great at giving information, checking to see how everyone was doing, and answering questions.  It was fun to see everyone working in their own kitchens, and amazing to experience a cooking class from Italy right in my own kitchen. I look forward to more classes like this :)" - Lisa

"What a fun way to cook a delicious meal and ready for lunch time! Ursula had tons of knowledge and somehow guided us to a great pasta. I had never cooked pasta with these ingredients and it was a real discovery. I will be cooking this often!" - Clara

"I particularly enjoyed Ursula’s way of being both rigorous in her explanations, while joking and being thought provocative about the evolution of our habits, tastes and beliefs through the ages." - Fredy

"Her wealth of knowledge on history, archaeology and the culinary traditions of Italy made for an informative and delicious experience." - Cherri

"She is a powerful and kind person with an impressive knowlege of history and great instincts for food and people." - Katie

Sessions are ticketed to support artists, makers and our small team. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, please reach out. We may have a generous participant who has paid it forward and would ask that you pay the love forward by sharing online sessions with 3 new friends.

All photos by Manoocher