I occasionally write of garum.
The ancient Romans eagerly doused their foods and used as a cooking ingredient a fermented fish sauce: garum. The preparation of garum is described by Pliny. Modern Vietnamese fish sauce and modern S. Italian colatura are modern analogies. I’ve had colatura on my wish list periodically… thanks readers, especially FGZ!
There is a direct connection between the production of sauces such as ketchup, Worchestershire, other fish-based steak sauces.
Today a reader sent an article that a garum factory was discovered in Israel. HERE
It is one of the very few garum factories found in the eastern Mediterranean, despite the Romans’ long presence in the area and the premium they put on the pungent fermented sauce.
Most surviving examples are to be found in the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy.
“We have something really unusual here,” Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Dr Tali Erickson-Gini told The Times of Israel, as the Romans added garum to almost all their dishes to give them a salty savoury kick.
“It’s said that making garum produced such a stench that cetariae were located some distance from the towns they served, and in this case the factory is about two kilometres from ancient Ashkelon,” Dr Tali Erickson-Gini said, according to Kan.
Read the description of the preparation of garum by Pliny and you will know why the area must have smelled pretty bad. But I suppose most of the ancient world smelled pretty bad.
Some of the most famous garum of the ancient Roman world was made in Pompeii. It’s factories have been explored.
I may have to act on this news. Sometimes you just have to have some of this stuff.
Here is a recipe which I like.
- in a large bowl put finely minced garlic, a few tablespoons of colatura, finely minced fresh or crushed dry pepperoncino, and a dab of really good olive oil
- cook, drain and cool in cold water thin spaghetti, even the so-called “angel hair” – HINT: DRAIN WELL even by tossing paper towels through it
- add the spaghetti to the bowl with the macerating garlic, pepperoncino, colatura, and mix well.
- garnish with freshly chopped parsley (flat leaf is best) – chop immediately before serving
Adjust as needed with more colatura and oil. It wouldn’t hurt to grind black pepper over it. Ancient Romans loved black pepper.