zondag, februari 03, 2008

Garum


On the Radio (Tros Newsshow) Saturday morning I heard that in the Jordan port of Aqaba the remains of a Roman amfora were found still containing garum, the omnipresent tastemaker of the Roman cuisine.
Since 1994, the Roman Aqaba Project (directed by S. Thomas Parker of North Carolina State University) has been uncovering the ancient Roman port of Aila. Now located within the modern city of Aqaba in southern Jordan, Aila was founded by the Nabataeans in the first century BCE and was a major international port on the Red Sea.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were transferred between ships and camel caravans, along with other items such as oil, wine, and fine ceramic tableware to name just a few. The Romans annexed Nabataea in 106 CE, when Aila became the terminus of a great highway, the Via Nova Trajana, linking Syria with the Red Sea, and the port continued to flourish through the Byzantine period and on into the early Islamic period.
Obviously, the Romans living in Aila would want to spice up their food in the traditional way with their fishsauce garum. The question surfacing in my sundaymorning brain is: local production or imported from the Roman province Baetica, the south of Spain, where the best garum was produced. Local production is not impossible; even in this country the remains of a garumfactory were discovered.
A recipe for garum is not necessary. Your neighbours would be horrified if you decided to let a bathtub of fishremains rot in the sun for weeks. Buy Nam Pla, the Thai fish sauce, instead.
recipes in Dutch: http://www.apiciana.nl/apicius.html
recipes in English:
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mjw/recipes/ethnic/historical/ant-rom-coll.html

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