Ancient Mediterranean Snacks

Live from Martina Franca, Italy

It’s the year 1,000 B.C., and 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 because you were no aristocrat, the ingredients had to be inexpensive and easy to acquire. 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 Sunday 14th May at 12PM 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 everyday snacks. Not only is Ursula an expert cook, she's also a culinary historian and archaeologist. Lively discussions surrounding the history and discovery of these recipes will be sprinkled throughout this multi-sensory session.

The menu is as follows: fried olives, crunchy chickpeas, red wine flatbread from the pan, walnut and black pepper-stuffed dates, 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.

If you are not in EST time zone, be sure to convert the time.

What you'll need

  • 1 Jar or pack of black olives in salt or brine 
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked in water the previous night
  • 1 cup walnut kernels, halved or whole
  • 1 dozen dates
  • 1 cup fresh, soft goat or sheep cheese or, alternatively, cottage cheese or ricotta
  • Red wine
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil 
  • Oil for frying
  • Garlic
  • Herbs of your choice (rosemary, parsley, sage, oregano, thyme…)
  • Salt
  • Salt flakes for garnish
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Honey
  • A frying pan
  • Curiosity

How to join

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

About Ursula

Passionate about sustainability, Ursula is an accomplished archaeologist and cook. For years, Ursula worked on excavation projects in Syria, Turkey and Egypt, where she often lived in small, traditional villages. Here, 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 not only 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 encourages 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.


"Ursula’s kitchen right in my home, once again! I loved it and my family found the 4 dishes delicious. Beyond that I could entertain them with all the historic knowledge our Chef-artist taught us. Thank you very much!!!" - Fredy

"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 knowledge of history and great instincts for food and people." - Katie

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All photos by Manoocher