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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

April 15 Leonardo da Vinci's Birthday

Leonardo da Vinci was the prototype of the Renaissance man - a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist and writer. He was the  illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci.and spent his life working in Milan, Rome, Bologna, and Venice, and spent his final years in France at the home given him by King Francis I in whose arms he allegedly died.

Leonardo kept his private life secret. Many authors have speculated on various aspects of Leonardo's personality. His sexuality has often been the subject of study, analysis and speculation,. most notably and unfortunately by Sigmund Freud. Freud's ill-conceived psychoanalytical treatise on the relationship of Leonardo da Vinci's sexuality to his art and other expressions of his genius postulated  that Leonardo was impotent - which may be Freud's best example of psychobabble.

We can gain same insight into Leonardo's sexuality fran both his art and his writing. Leonardo basically considered all sex as an act of rape and not of mutual sexual satisfaction. Leonardo further believed that it was man's essential nature to rape and cause pain, while women were essentially forced to suffer the rape with patience and resignation.

The model for on of his most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda, has been the subject of speculations for hundreds of years.  .Some  historians claim the the model was Lisa del Giocondo.  Freud also speculated that the famous smile was a recollection of Leonardo's mother's smile (Oedipus  réchauffé)   In the April 1995 Scientific American. Lillian Schwartz demonstrated how Leonardo morphed his own image into the to the Mona Lisa, possibly one of the earliest examples of artistic gender bending

The Italians and the French have both created many eponymous culinary tributes to Leonardo although  the majority of them are meat dishes, which are an inappropriate choice since Leonardo was a vegetarian in his later life, occasionally making an exception at court banquets and eating a lit­tle fish. The most authentic of these tributes is Tagliatelle alla Leonardo da Vinci , an historically appropriate choice considering that tagliatelle was created for Lucrezia Borgia, the sister of Cesare Borgia, who offered Leonardo post as his chief military engineer.

So what could be a more appropriate recipe to celebrate Leonardo's birthday than this eponymous tagliatelle which we suggest pairing with a viewing of Ever After: A Cinderella Story i (1998) with Patrick Godfrey portraying Leonardo This popular film is also being transformed into a Broadway musical which is expected to premier in 2014.

Tagliatelle alla Leonardo da Vinci


3 large tomatoes 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 teaspoons olive oil 1 lb spinach 8 basil leaves 1 clove minced garlic

1 cloves minced garlic 1lb tagliatelle 1/4 lb butter 1 TB grated lemon zest 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat oven to 350º F. Cut tomatoes in half. Scoop out seeds. Place on a lightly greased baking dish or glass pie plate. Bake tomatoes 10 minutes. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil  and a dash of salt over each tomato half and return to oven and bake about 15 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Allow to cool for a minimum of 15 minutes.

  2. Chop baked tomatoes into small pieces and set aside.

  3. Rinse spinach several times to remove grit. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and cook over medium heat until limp (about 6 - 8 minutes). Drain. Place cooked spinach in a towel am squeeze out excess moisture. Remove and mince basil leaves and add to spinach.

  4. Cook pasta according to package instructions.

  5. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan aver low heat. Cook garlic far 1 minute. Add minced spinach/basil mixture. Add salt and power am lemon zest. Set aside.

  6. Drain pasta. Add spinach mixture and tomatoes and cheese. Toss and serve immediately.

© 2010 Gordon Nary


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