Garum

garum

Garum [gah-rum], similar to liquamen, was a type of fermented fish sauce condiment that was an essential flavour in Ancient Roman cooking. Although it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Roman world, it originally came from the Greeks, gaining its name from the Greek words garos or gáron (γάρον),  a fish whose intestines were originally used in the condiment’s production. For the Romans it was both a staple to the common diet and a luxury for the wealthy. After the liquid garum was ladled off of the top of the mixture, the remains of the fish, called allec, was used by the poorest classes to flavour their staple porridge.

The sauce was generally made through the crushing and fermentation in brine of the innards of various fishes such as mackerel, tuna, eel, and others. While the finished product was apparently mild and subtle in flavor, the actual production of garum created such unpleasant smells as to become relegated to the outskirts of citie. Garum was prepared from the intestines of small fishes, macerated in salt and cured in the sun for one to three months, where the mixture fermented and liquified in the dry warmth, the salt inhibiting the common agents of decay. The end product was very nutritious, retaining a high amount of protein and amino acids, along with a good deal of minerals and B vitamins. Garum is still produced at factories in San Roque, Spain.

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