Of rotted fish juice lunch and of gardens and of feeders

I want to thank EC of NY for lunch today.  EC of NY sent some garum… yes… garum.  I have written about garum several times (check here and here.), but most recently in the form of colatura, a super concentrated pickled fish reduction from southern Italy.

We know how ancient garum was prepared and we have a garum factory and many containers in the ruins of Pompeii. The naturalist Pliny describes its making from the intestines of fish, macerated in salt and left in the sun for one to three months, where the mixture fermented and liquefied.

You can buy your garum using amazon!  And it is nearly always on my wishlist.. for obvious reasons.

It has a lot of protein and B vitamins!

Garum is good for you!

Seneca was, however, sceptical.  "Do you not realize," wrote Seneca in a letter (95)- generally a killjoy –  "that garum sociorum, that expensive bloody mass of decayed fish, consumes the stomach with its salted putrefaction?"  Garum sociorum was imported from Spain, after all.

Well… garum wasn’t all that expensive in its lower grades or when made domestically.  It was consumed rather like is modern descendent ketchup – really – by everyone.  There were some very fancy expensive concoctions of garum, however, just as there are boutique designer ketchups now.

To use your garum or colatura, cook pasta… very thing "angel hair" works best for this.  A classic serving size of pasta for men is 100 grams. I use about 75 grams these days.

Meanwhile, chop up garlic and hot peppers and parsley, very fine, and put it all in a bowl.

Put a tablespoon of garum over the chopped stuff.

Let the pasta cool a bit and drain very well.  Add the cooked pasta and stir together.

Eat wolfishly.

Crave constantly.

In the meantime, sun helps not only to liquify your fish guts but also for the growing of tomatoes.

Planting requires beer…. which the ancient Romans called fermentum… and zythus… and cerevisia.

Meanwhile, this hummingbird is having a rest on the very peak of my feeder apparatus.

No beer, however.

This very young Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is catching some rays – they typically look up like this, by the way.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. J Kusske says:

    How does the modern recreation of garum compare to a Thai or other SE Asian fish sauce? “Salted putrification” has a nice ring to it, I’ll have to add that to my repetoire to describe some dishes (like fermented or stinky tofu, perhaps, or that Swedish fish that’s fermented in brine, Surstroemming).

  2. wanda says:

    No comment on garum. However, what a tidy-looking garden you have, Fr.Z. I’ve pared down to six tomato plants, Better Boy’s. What else have you planted, I can’t quite tell from the photo..cabbage? peppers? Anyway, I hope everything grows & produces well.

    The kiss of the Sun for pardon,
    The song of the birds for mirth.
    One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
    then anywhere else on earth.

    Author unknown.

  3. Agnes says:

    I like the Sapsucker. He seems to be saying, “Oh! Hello, God!”

  4. Marius2k4 says:

    I *love* garum! We made it in college first semester Latin class, and I remember being in the 5-10% or so who could tolerate it, much less enjoy it.

  5. tioedong says:

    I never tasted Garum but it sounds similar to patis, the local Asian fish sauce, which you can probably buy at your local Walmart (at least, that’s where I used to buy it for my husband Lolo when we lived in Oklahoma).

  6. Luce says:

    How wonderful to see your garden! My husband is the gardener, but I am required to visit it with him regularly in order to see the progress and hear the details:) I love his heirloom tomatoes, my favorite so far is “Mr. Stripy.” I’m blessed to be married to a Sicilian/Ukranian who loves to cook!

  7. J Kusske: It is analogous. I have posted to that as well.

  8. jdskyles says:

    Curious, how is garum similar and/or different from Asian style fish sauces?

  9. Rouxfus says:

    This post reminds me of a wonderful book where I first learned about garum: “Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlanski. I had never before appreciated how important salt was in the Roman (and world, for that matter) economy, and how much we take it as granted in our own. That understanding really changes one’s understanding of our Lord’s use of salt in teaching his disciples their role in His Kingdom.

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