GARUM WATCH! Ancient factory found in Israel

Garum.

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.

First, GET SOME COLATURA:  US HERE – UK HERE (there are several varieties with varying prices)

  • 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.

Please share this post!
Share

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to GARUM WATCH! Ancient factory found in Israel

  1. Julia_Augusta says:

    That’s funny. I have always added fish sauce (Thai or Philippine variety) to anything with tomato sauce and it really brings out the flavors in the dish. Thank you for the recipe.

  2. PostCatholic says:

    Great on Isicia omentata in paradisium. I like mine with lettuce and tomato, garum liquamen and french fried potato. Big Iudean salitura and a cold draft cerevisia, well good God almighty, which way do I steer my trireme?

    [Towards the only safe and peaceful harbor.]

  3. Semper Gumby says:

    In the kingdom of Louisiana the Blessed McIlhenney household and their kinfolk unto many generations have been producing Tobasco sauce. Peppers are picked by God-fearing hands and stored in barrels for three years. And it came to pass that in the days of Ronaldus Magnus it was decided that each MRE would contain a small bottle of the Blessed Sauce to fortify the Legions and encourage them in their labors.

    Still, it would be kind of cool if a small bottle of Garum would find their way into MRE pouches.

    Matthew 8- Jesus Christ and the Centurion.

    What we do in life echoes in eternity. Strength and Honor!

  4. The Masked Chicken says:

    Clearly, I need new glasses.

    I read the sentence: “Modern Vietnamese fish sauce and modern S. Italian colatura are modern analogies,”

    as: Modern Vietnamese fish sauce and modern S. Italian coloratura are modern analogies,”

    and found myself wondering if opera singers were mermaids “)

    The Chicken

  5. Mariana2 says:

    I read coloratura, too : ) .

  6. So does garum taste something like Worcestershire sauce?

  7. Shonkin says:

    I’m not surprised that Garum factories might have stunk. A lot of food preparation facilities smell bad. Other than the effluvium from slaughterhouses, the worst stenches, in my opinion, come from coffee roasters and sugar beet refineries. Their products are pleasant, but their preparation emits gases that would gag a maggot.

  8. PostCatholic says:

    Not a fan of Iacabous Colafus? :-)

  9. Laurelmarycecilia says:

    We’ve always recognized four tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter. But in 2006, another was determined…. called umani. Colatura produces that taste. A drop or two (depending) put into almost anything improves the taste in a subtle way. Try it !

    ps given the state of the Church and the world, this conversation seems to be like having a chit-chat about the color of the deck chair cushions on the sinking Titanic.

  10. Laurelmarycecilia says:

    We’ve always recognized four tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter. But in 2006, another was determined…. called umani. Colatura produces that taste. A drop or two (depending) put into almost anything improves the taste in a subtle way. Try it !

    ps given the state of the Church and the world, this conversation seems to be like having a chin-wag about the color of the deck chair cushions on the sinking Titanic.

  11. Gregg the Obscure says:

    that recipe sounds enticing for dinner tonight. just have to get the featured ingredient, which i suspect is available at a particular local market.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Traditionally when people are escaping disaster, food is a good motivational topic. You can overdo it, like the Israelites remembering meat and veg in Egypt, but the basic concept is okay.

    And there is nothing wrong about learning about archaeological discoveries. If the Lord finds archaeologists working when He comes, they will just be worried about unfinished documentation.

    (Btw, I was just reading a Songs commentary that talked about “the storeroom of the King.” And I knew what that looked like, because the Great Courses channel on Amazon Prime had a course on archaeology, where they dug out a bunch of royal-sized storerooms in a palace/fortress complex on top of some mountain in Israel, in an avocado grove. It is amazing how these things show up when you are studying the Bible.)

  13. PostCatholic says:

    Bottarga (which I just searched your blog for and saw that you’re familiar with it) was first made in Egypt c. 1200-1000 BCE and the word is thought to derive from ancient Coptic. Just a bit more of fish condiment trivia.

  14. zeremoniar says:

    Garum is fascinating. I would like to try it one day (it is important to use much salt so that it doesn’t spoil but only encymatic degradation comes to work). But then I fear about the possibility of poisoning…