Historical Italian Feast Recipes

Imagine feasting in this pavilion…


On authentic Italian Renaissance dishes such as pork sausages cooked in wine, Rose & lavender drinks, tagliatelle pasta, fried spinach, and lamb meatballs. Would you like to make these at home? Find the recipes at the link below:



Then join us on Artisan’s Row at Gulf Wars for this period lunch feast:

Primo servito di Credenza – First service from the side board

Insalate di cetriolo – cucumber salad

Salciccione cott’in vino – pork sausage poached in wine

Duck breast prosciutto

Bread and butter

Primo et ultimo servito di cucina – First and last service from the kitchen

Lasagne Romani – flat pasta cooked in broth and combined

with grated cheese

Mixed meatballs in Roman style

Fried spinach, dressed with rose scented vinegar, currants and


Secondo et ultimo servito di Credenza – Second and last service from the sideboard


Fresh fruit

All served with a beverage of rose, lavender, and honey

Italian Lunch Feast Menu & Gulf Wars XXIV Schedule

Menu for our period lunch feast next Friday at Gulf Wars (click here to donate and reserve your space!):

Primo servito di Credenza – First service from the side board

Insalate di cetriolo – cucumber salad

Salciccione cott’in vino – pork sausage poached in wine

Duck breast prosciutto

Bread and butter

Primo et ultimo servito di cucina – First and last service from the kitchen

Lasagne Romani – flat pasta cooked in broth and combined

with grated cheese

Mixed meatballs in Roman style

Fried spinach, dressed with rose scented vinegar, currants and


Secondo et ultimo servito di Credenza – Second and last service from the sideboard


Fresh fruit

All served with a beverage of rose, lavender, and honey

Class schedule as of 10 March 2015:

2015-03-10 Classes at Ca d Oro Salone

See https://italianrenaissancesalon.wordpress.com/ for more information

DIY Perfume Oil (Roses, Lavender, and Jasmine, Oh My!)


A recipe from my mundane blog on easy perfume oils :)

Originally posted on Fleurty Naturelle's Blog:

Perfume oils are one of the oldest beauty products known to woman.

Perfume Oils Perfume Oils (Photo credit: KateWares)

 According to Levey, the world’s first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times. The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose. Until his discovery, liquid perfumes were mixtures of oil and crushed herbs or petals, which made a strong blend. Rose water was more delicate, and immediately became popular. The art of perfumery was known in western Europe ever since 1221, evidenced by monks’ recipes of Santa Maria delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of…

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Candlemas Heraldic & Historical Apothecary Class Materials

Ciao ragazzi!

I am teaching two classes this weekend. The first is on the toilette of Caterina Sforza …

s1600Young_Woman_Receives_Gifts_From_Venus_and_the_Three_Graces%2C_Botticelli.jpg 1600×1067 píxeles


… and the second is on historical heraldic achievements and how we can display them in the SCA.

achievement 2014 no bkgd


Click on the links above to view the PDF of the class handout.

Laila Akhyaliyya – Female Voice Of Antiquity


by Dorothy Disse

Laila Akhyaliyya, a member of a noble family of the ‘Uqail (in what is now Iraq), lived in the later 600s, and knew two of the Umayyad caliphs whose dynasty led the Islamic world from 661 to 750. She may have been married to a man named Sawwar, but many of her poems are laments for Tauba ibn Humayyar (d.674), a fellow poet and perhaps her lover, who apparently died an outlaw. Tradition describes her as often wittily holding her own in debate with Umayyad authorities who criticized her for her defense of Tauba.

Laila’s diwan (poetry collection), like that of Khansa earlier in the century, was preserved by Islamic scholars who studied seventh century Arabic literature in order to understand the language of the Qur’an. Some of Laila’s poems praise the gift-giving caliphs (normally done only by professional male poets), others are parts of exchanges of invective with other poets. However, much of her poetry continues to perform the traditional woman poet’s role in the pre- and early-Islamic society: to record the life and deeds of her tribe and to mourn the dead.

On this page you’ll find:

Links to helpful sites online.

Excerts from translations in print.

Information about secondary sources.



1. Translated poems:

(a) In a 2004 biography of Laila, by Ma’n Abul Husn, passages from three poems, translated by Arthur Wormhoudt: “O eye, weep tears continually flowing”; “O, bravo the man you were, Tawba;” and “We are those that came early at dawn.”
(b) “At Tauba’s death I swore,” translated by Willis Barnstone; it is followed by several excerpts from Wormhoudt, including one not given above, “The curve of grouse watering in a flock.”

2. For historical background:

(a) The Wikipedia entry on Laila’s tribe, the Banu ‘Amir (you can link to a brief entry on Laila).
(b) Wikipedia entries on the two caliphs whom Laila knew and praised in her poetry: Marwan ibn al-Hakam (623-685), and Abdul Malik Bin Marwan (646-705).
(b) A 2003 essay by Jonathan A.C. Brown, “The Social Context of Pre-Islamic Poetry: Poetic Imagery and Social Reality in the Mu c allaqat,” which, although its chief focus is on a group of seven long poems written by men from c.550-c.630, describes the world in which Laila lived.



[Arthur Wormhoudt has translated Laila’s diwan (along with that of a male poet). He presents 44 of her poems (including some fragments). Wormhoudt speaks briefly of Laila in his foreword; the notes are of limited help. This is not a book to be found in all libraries, but you can get it via interlibrary loan:]

Diwan Antara ibn Shaddad ibn Qurad al Abs. Diwan Laila Akhyaliyya / translated by Arthur Wormhoudt (An Arab translation series). [Oskaloosa, Iowa]: William Penn College, 1974. (128 p.)
LC#: PJ7696.A53 A27 1974

“We left no joy for the stragglers.”

[Laila praises the fierceness of her tribe. The words are Wormhoudt’s; some line-breaks are changed and punctuation added:]

We are those that came early at dawn
attacking steadily on Nukhail’s day.
We destroyed the Malik al Jahjaha
forever; we stirred mourners for him.
We left no joy for the stragglers,
neither camps nor dripping blood.
We are Banu Khuwailid without compare;
the battle does not lie nor trifle.        [p.108]

“They press to belly and breast the wings and hover a little at a favorite pool.”

[She describes the creatures of her world — here, adult grouse and their young:]

The curve of grouse watering in a flock
They near the pool water in all haste….

They stay intoxicated at the springs as if
Drinkers dependent on Persian lords
They took a little drink and hurried to
Take it away between Shibak and Tandib
The night in a desert and morning as guests.

There at brood places in a hungry flock
They press to belly and breast the wings
And hover a little at a favorite pool
Then they slow the beating of wings to end
At their sides shoulder to shoulder.

So they hear their sounds and hungry cries
And give them back from that as echo
They bend to the naked heads as if they
Are boy’s balls made of rabbit’s skin
When the dark leaves them they give them
a drink of the pool nearby never empty.

The name of harshness is theirs and chicks
Make an uproar that is not understood….       [ll.13, 15-23; p.105]

“…from the pure grammar and the rhymes like spearheads….”

[Many of Laila’s poems mourn the death of her lover:]

O eye, weep tears continually flowing,
weep for Tauba in hidden fear;
for a man of Banu Sa’id that I suffer for.

What was it that took him to a stony grave,
from the pure grammar and the rhymes
like spearheads and a thing not shared?        [ll.1-3, p.123]

“He reached the heights of things with ease.”

[Laila searches for images to praise Tauba:]

He reached the heights of things with ease
when they tired every bounteous noble.

He was honey—no, I see a beehive his likeness,
with the liquor of reddest Baisan wine.       [p.108]

“Things perfectly done deny for you the blame of men.”

[But Tauba had died as an outlaw, not as a respected tribal leader, so Laila’s poems must defend him as well as praise him; the last lines show the union of Islamic with pre-Islamic thought:]

O, bravo the man you were, Tauba,
when the high points met and the low one were raised.
Bravo the man you were, O Tauba,
not being surpassed on a day you were attempting it.
O bravo the man you were, Tauba, as the fearful
came to you for defense, bravo the bravery.

Bravo the man, O Tauba, as neighbor and friend.
Bravo the man, O Tauba, as you excelled.

By my life, you are a man whose loss I weep
as ancestors, though gossips complain of him.
By my life, you are a man whose loss I mourn
increasing my waking for him no end.
By my life, you are a man whose loss I mourn
when great things multiply for the dying.

Things perfectly done deny for you the blame of men,
O Tauba, each time you are recalled.
Bounty for widows’ shelter deny for you the blame of men,
O Tauba, every time you are recalled.

Had Allah not removed you, O Tauba,
yet you had met death’s dart, and death is swift.
Had Allah not removed you, O Tauba,
yet on you would a dark morning cloud shower.       [p.118]


[This anthology has three of Laila’s poems (one a part of a longer work), translated by Willis Barnstone. (See the book’s table of contents online.):]

A Book of women poets from antiquity to now / edited by Aliki Barnstone & Willis Barnstone. Rev. ed. New York: Schocken Books, c1992. (xxiv, 822 p.)
LC#: PN6109.9 .B6 1992;   ISBN: 0805209972
Includes indexes.



[This collection includes Dana Sajdi’s essay, “Revisiting Layla Al-Akhyaliyya’s Trespass,” which translates and discusses a 36-verse ode (qasida) in which Laila uses a traditionally male form in such a way as to present female voices and a woman’s view. Sajdi also looks at how Laila was viewed by contemporaries and later Arab scholars. (For Wormhoudt’s translation of part of the qasida, see above, “The curve of grouse watering in a flock.”). Another essay, Marle Hammond’s “Qasida, Marthiya, and Differance,” includes Hammond’s translation (with the Arabic original) of a 45-line elegy for Tawba, followed by a comparison of each section of Laila’s poem with two others written by women. (See the book’s table of contents online.):]

Transforming loss into beauty: essays on Arabic literature and culture in honor of Magda Al-Nowaihi / edited by Marle Hammond, Dana Sajdi. Cairo: New York: American University In Cairo Press, c2008. (xxvi, 404 p.: port.)
LC#: PJ7503 .T62 2008; ISBN: 9789774161025
Includes bibliographical references
[Sajdi’s essay in the above collection is an enlargement of an earlier article, “Trespassing the Male Domain: The Qasidah of Layla Al-Akhyaliyyah,” which unlike the 2008 essay, gives the poem’s Arabic text in an appendix: Journal of Arabic Literature, 31 (2000), 121-143; LC#: PJ7501 .J63;  ISSN: 0085-2376 (See online the issue’s table of contents.)]

[Although she does not deal specifically with Laila in her study, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych’s chapter “The Obligations and Poetics of Gender: Women’s Elegy and Blood Vengeance” discusses the purpose of women’s elegy in pre- and early Islamic poetry:]

Stetkevych, Suzanne Pinckney. The mute immortals speak: pre-Islamic poetry and the poetics of ritual (Myth and poetics). Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993. (xvi, 334 p.)
LC#: PJ7542.Q3 S75 1993;   ISBN: 0801427649
“Appendix of Arabic texts”–P. 287-317. Includes bibliographical references (p. 319-327) and index.


Updated by Dorothy Disse 09-02-12

Italian Renaissance Apothecary Jar – The Alberello

I was looking at a few of the alberelli (plural) online because I happened to meet a few artisans interested in making some for the historical apothecary. I wanted to show you all a few images of extant pieces and then think about the common threads between them all. My heraldic colors are red and gold, but I don’t see many extant alberelli in those colors. Blues, yellows, and a little orange, maybe, but not red. So, I’ve accepted that perhaps I would modify my own heraldic charges to similar colors :)
I started by perusing the Metropolitan Museum of Art Online. They have 43 alberelli listed that are dated from 1400-1600. You can see them all here http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?&what=Albarelli&ft=*&when=A.D.+1400-1600&pg=1
Lorie Bolduc of Whitehart Designs has made a lovely plate with a nice Renaissance fleur and posted the photo of it on her facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203416824353541&set=a.1544360361184.2069689.1000234356&type=1&theater
lorie bolduc plate maiolica
I found a piece from the Renaissance period with a similar fleur:
quantara alberello with fleur
This one (below) is at the Met and is 12 inches tall (likely 6 inches in diameter at the widest point). http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/460265
Alberello Met SF-1975-1-992
This one from Christies (on the far left) is 17″ tall. It is blue and white with bit of yellow. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/a-tuscan-maiolica-blue-and-white-16th-4848176-details.aspx?intObjectID=4848176
Now I’m on a roll. This group is lovely! Although completely out of my price range.  http://www.sothebys.com/es/auctions/ecatalogue/2012/important-old-master-paintings-n08825/lot.281.lotnum.html
For my own reenactment purposes, it would be nice to have a couple that are 12″ high and 6″ wide… and a couple that are more handy, like 8″ tall and 4″ wide.
Have you ever commissioned pottery or ceramics for your persona kit/ living history efforts?

Medieval & Renaissance Herbals

I am writing an herbal for my apothecary. Below I’ve posted the research I’ve done so far from An Illustrated History of Herbals, Healing from the Medieval Garden, and Illustrative Traditions of Medieval Herbals. Enjoy :)

What is an Herbal?

An herbal is a book that describes plants (Anderson). They typically describe plants that have medicinal properties, how to identify them, how to extract their useful properties, how to apply those extractions to treat disorders and diseases (Anderson). An herbal is a book of simples (Collins). A simple is a medicine composed of one herb or plant (Collins). In an herbal there are typically chapters with the names of plants, their illustrations, their characteristics, their medicinal properties, and recipes for medicines made from them (Collins). Herbals provide insight into medical and botanical practices of history, but also material on the philology, the social history, and the folklore of those who came before us (Anderson).

LaBellaDonna Create Perfume

Pedianos Disocorides was from Cilicia and lived during the time of Nero (50-68 AD). He wrote in Greek, and his treatise, De Materia medica (On medical material), covered 600 plants, 35 animal products, and 90 minerals. His body of work is classified between five books: I – aromatic oils, salves, trees, and shrubs; II – animals, animal products, cereals, pot herbs, and sharp herbs; III – roots, juices, herbs, and seeds; IV – roots and herbs; V – wines and minerals (Collins). This herbal laid the foundation for all subsequent herbal literature and was considered the supreme authority on medicine for over 1,500 years (Anderson). Other herbals, such as the Hortus sanitatis and the Herbarius latinus, cited this work frequently (Anderson). The oldest known manuscript of the Materia medica is at the Austrian National Library of Vienna and dates from 512 AD (Anderson).


Pliny’s Naturalis historia (Natural History) contains data from over 2,000 historical manuscripts. Pliny used over 400 authors, listing over 33,000 items, and included over 33,000 facts and myths that give us insight into the Roman world view (Anderson). The work is contained in 37 books and was written before his death in August 79 AD when he succumbed to the eruption of Vesuvius.

According to scholars the only certain thing about The Herbal of Apuleius, known also as Herbarius, is that Apuleius was not the author (Anderson). Lucius Apuleius was the author of The Golden Ass, he was a native of Madurensis near ancient Carthage, and he was a student of Plato’s philosophy. Herbarius manuscripts do contain some native North African plants and also contain the mythological figures of Chiron the Centaur, Achilles, and Peleus, three personages misunderstood as Apluleis, Plato, and a centaur. The work was compiled around 400 AD and drew heavily on Pliny and Dioscorides. This herbal went on to inspire other herbals, where the author would substitute local plants that resembled those in the herbal and deleting those foreign to him (Anderson).

After Herbarius the next notable herbal the presented any competition was the 11th century De viribus herbarum (On the power of herbs) of Macer Floridus (Anderson). The author is likely a man named Odo, called Macer of the Flowers. This herbal is in Latin verses and describes the medicinal properties of 77 plants (Anderson). Most of the material contained in De viribus herbarum comes from Pliny. Other classical writers such as Galen, Disocorides, and Hippocrates are also represented, differing only in the use of verse instead of ordinary prose. This made the volume popular with doctors who could more easily remember the metrical lines (Anderson).

Hildegarde of Bingen is the first woman author of an herbal that discusses the medicinal properties of plants and trees. Hildegarde was born near Mainz in 1099, the daughter of a knight (Anderson).

What are the notable herbals of antiquity?

Emperor Shen Nung Pen T’sao Ching (2700 BC, Anderson)

Papyrus Ebers (1550 BC, Anderson)

Pedianos Dioscorides De Materia Medica (Greek/Arabic tradition, 1st century per Collins, printed in 1478 Venice per Anderson)

Apuleius Platonicus Herbarius (Latin tradition, 2nd – 4th century, Collins)

Paolo di Nicea Manuale Medico (ed. Anna Maria Ieraci Bio, 8th century, Dendle)

St. Gall Botanicus (9th century, Dendle)

De Viribus Herbarum of Macer Floridus (11th century)

Physica of Hildegarde of Bingen (12th century)

Tacuinum Sanitatis (Lomardy, 14th century, Collins)

Caius Plinius Secundus (Pliny) Historia naturalis (printed in 1469 Venice, Anderson)