Garum

Garum

Overview
Garum, similar to liquamen, was a type of fermented fish sauce
Fish sauce
Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and features heavily in Thai and Vietnamese...

 condiment that was an essential flavour in Ancient Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 cooking, the supreme condiment
Condiment
A condiment is an edible substance, such as sauce or seasoning, added to food to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor, or in some cultures, to complement the dish. Many condiments are available packaged in single-serving sachets , like mustard or ketchup, particularly when supplied with...

.

Although it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Roman world, it originally came from the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, gaining its name from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words garos or garon (γάρον), which named the 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.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Garum'
Start a new discussion about 'Garum'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Garum, similar to liquamen, was a type of fermented fish sauce
Fish sauce
Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and features heavily in Thai and Vietnamese...

 condiment that was an essential flavour in Ancient Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 cooking, the supreme condiment
Condiment
A condiment is an edible substance, such as sauce or seasoning, added to food to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor, or in some cultures, to complement the dish. Many condiments are available packaged in single-serving sachets , like mustard or ketchup, particularly when supplied with...

.

Although it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Roman world, it originally came from the Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, gaining its name from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words garos or garon (γάρον), which named the fish whose intestines were originally used in the condiment's production.

Roman diet


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. Among the rich, the best garum fetched prices for which the historian of food Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat found no parallel in caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

 but rather with the precious essences used in perfumery. Garum appears in most of the recipes featured in Apicius
Apicius
Apicius is the title of a collection of Roman cookery recipes, usually thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD and written in a language that is in many ways closer to Vulgar than to Classical Latin....

, a Roman cookbook, which also offers a technique to render palatable garum that had gone bad. The sauce was generally made through the crushing and fermentation in brine
Brine
Brine is water, saturated or nearly saturated with salt .Brine is used to preserve vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, in a process known as brining . Brine is also commonly used to age Halloumi and Feta cheeses, or for pickling foodstuffs, as a means of preserving them...

 of the innards of various fishes such as mackerel
Mackerel
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel , enter bays and can be...

, tuna
Tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

, eel
Eel
Eels are an order of fish, which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera and approximately 800 species. Most eels are predators...

, and others. While the finished product was apparently mild and subtle in flavor—the nobile garum of Martial
Martial
Marcus Valerius Martialis , was a Latin poet from Hispania best known for his twelve books of Epigrams, published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors Domitian, Nerva and Trajan...

's epigram—the actual production of garum created such unpleasant smells as to become relegated to the outskirts of cities so that the neighbors would not be offended by the odour.

When mixed with wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

 (oenogarum, a popular Byzantine sauce), vinegar
Vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

, black pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

, or oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

, garum was served to enhance the flavor of a wide variety of dishes, including boiled veal and steamed mussels, even pear-and-honey soufflé. Diluted with water (hydrogarum) it was distributed to Roman legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s. Pliny remarked that it could be diluted to the colour of honey wine and drunk; as such a tonic, garum was also employed as a medicine—ancient Romans considered it to be one of the best cures available for many ailments, including dog bites, dysentery, and ulcers; additionally, it was used as an ingredient in cosmetics
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

 and for removal of unwanted hair and freckles. Garum was thought to ease chronic diarrhea and treat constipation.

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. According to archaeologist Timmy Gambin, garum also contained monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate
Monosodium glutamate, also known as sodium glutamate or MSG, is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, one of the most abundant naturally occurring non-essential amino acids....

, making it an appetizing, addictive food additive. It was common for fishermen to lay out their catch according to the type and part of the fish. This allowed makers to pick the exact ingredients they wanted. Concentrated decoctions of aromatic herbs, varying according to the locale, were added—sometimes from in-house gardens. A fine strainer was inserted into the fermenting vessel and the thick liquid was ladled out.

The manufacture and export of garum was an element of the prosperity of coastal Greek emporia from the Ligurian coast of Gaul to the coast of Hispania Baetica
Hispania Baetica
Hispania Baetica was one of three Imperial Roman provinces in Hispania, . Hispania Baetica was bordered to the west by Lusitania, and to the northeast by Hispania Tarraconensis. Baetica was part of Al-Andalus under the Moors in the 8th century and approximately corresponds to modern Andalucia...

, and, Toussaint-Samat observes, an impetus for Roman penetration of these coastal regions. Amphora
Amphora
An amphora is a type of vase-shaped, usually ceramic container with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body...

e recovered from shipwreck sites off Ansérune and Agde
Agde
Agde is a commune in the Hérault department in southern France. It is the Mediterranean port of the Canal du Midi.-Location:Agde is located on the river Hérault, 4 km from the Mediterranean Sea, and 750 km from Paris...

 bear the traces of the garum they contained and date as early as the fifth century BC. Umbricius Scaurus' production of garum put the ancient city of Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 on the map. The factories where garum was produced in Pompeii have not been found yet, which has led many researchers to believe that the factories lay outside the walls of the city. Each port had its own traditional recipe, but by the time of Augustus Romans considered the best to be garum from Cartagena
Cartagena, Spain
Cartagena is a Spanish city and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. As of January 2011, it has a population of 218,210 inhabitants being the Region’s second largest municipality and the country’s 6th non-Province capital...

 and Gades in Baetica—garum sociorum, "garum of the allies".

Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

, holding the old-fashioned line against the expensive craze, cautioned against it, even though his family was of Baetian Corduba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

:

Today one can still see a garum factory at the Baetian site of Baelo Claudia
Baelo Claudia
Baelo Claudia is the name of an ancient Roman town, located outside of Tarifa, near the village of Bolonia, in southern Spain. Lying on the shores of the Straits of Gibraltar, the town was originally a fishing village and trade link when it was settled some 2,000 years ago...

 in present-day Tarifa
Tarifa
Tarifa is a small town in the province of Cádiz, Andalusia, on the southernmost coast of Spain. The town is located on the Costa de la Luz and across the Straits of Gibraltar facing Morocco. The municipality includes Punta de Tarifa, the southernmost point in continental Europe. There are five...

 and Carteia in present-day San Roque in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. This Spanish garum was an export to Rome, and gained the towns a certain amount of prestige in their day. The garum of Lusitania
Lusitania
Lusitania or Hispania Lusitania was an ancient Roman province including approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain . It was named after the Lusitani or Lusitanian people...

 (present-day Portugal) was also highly prized in Rome. It was shipped to Rome directly from the harbour of Lacobriga (present-day Lagos
Lagos, Portugal
Lagos is a municipality at the mouth of Bensafrim River and along the Atlantic Ocean, in the Barlavento region of the Algarve, in southern Portugal....

). A former Roman garum factory can be visited in the Baixa area of central Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

. Fossae Marianae, located on the Southern tip of present day France, served as a distribution hub for Western Europe, including Gaul, Germania and to Britain.

In 2008, archaeologists used the residue from garum found in containers in Pompeii to confirm the August date of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting...

, by detecting that it was made entirely of bogues
Sparidae
The Sparidae is a family of fish, included in the order Perciformes. The fish of the family are commonly called sea breams and porgies . The sheepshead, scup, and red sea bream are species in this family. They are found in shallow temperate and tropical waters and are bottom-dwelling carnivores....

, fish that congregate in the summer months.

See also

  • Fish sauce
    Fish sauce
    Fish sauce is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and features heavily in Thai and Vietnamese...

  • Gentleman's Relish
    Gentleman's Relish
    Gentleman's Relish is a type of anchovy paste. It is also known as Patum Peperium.It was created in 1828 by an Englishman called John Osborn. It has a strong, very salty and slightly fishy taste, and contains anchovies , butter, herbs and spices...

  • Pissaladière
    Pissaladière
    Pissaladière is a pizza-like dish made in southern France, around the Nice, Marseilles, Toulon and the Var District, and in the Italian region of Liguria, especially in the Province of Imperia. Believed to have been introduced to the area by Roman cooks during the time of the Avignon Papacy, it...

  • Worcestershire sauce
    Worcestershire sauce
    Worcestershire sauce , or Worcester sauce is a fermented liquid condiment; primarily used to flavour meat or fish dishes.First made at 60 Broad Street, Worcester, England, by two dispensing chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, the Lea & Perrins brand was commercialised in 1837 and...

  • Bagoong
    Bagoong
    Bagoong is a Philippine condiment made of partially or completely fermented fish or shrimps and salt. The fermentation process also results in fish sauce .The preparation of bagoong can vary regionally in the Philippines....


Further reading

  • Butterworth, Alex and Ray Laurence. Pompeii: The Living City. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2005.
  • McCann, A.M. (1994). "The Roman Port of Cosa",(273 BC
    273 BC
    Year 273 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Licinus and Canina...

    ), Scientific American, Ancient Cities, pp. 92–99, by Anna Marguerite McCann. Covers: modifying harbor, for the garum industry, amphora
    Amphora
    An amphora is a type of vase-shaped, usually ceramic container with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body...

     factory, hydraulic concrete, of "Pozzolana
    Pozzolana
    Pozzolana, also known as pozzolanic ash , is a fine, sandy volcanic ash. Pozzolanic ash was first discovered and dug in Italy, at Pozzuoli. It was later discovered at a number of other sites as well...

     mortar" and the five piers, of the Cosa
    Cosa
    Cosa was a Latin colonia founded under Roman influence in southwestern Tuscany in 273 BC, perhaps on land confiscated from the Etruscans...

     harbor, the lighthouse on pier 5, diagrams, and photographs. Height of Port city: 100 BC
    100 BC
    Year 100 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Marius and Flaccus...

    . For: Garum Industry at port of Cosa, Italy
    Cosa
    Cosa was a Latin colonia founded under Roman influence in southwestern Tuscany in 273 BC, perhaps on land confiscated from the Etruscans...

    , 273 BC
    273 BC
    Year 273 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Licinus and Canina...

    .'
  • Atik, S. "Marcus Gavius Apicius ve Garum" III-IV. Ulusal Arkeolojik Arastirmalar Sempozyumu, Anadolu / Anatolia Ek Dizi No. 2 / Suppl. Series No. 2, 15–25, Ankara, 2008.

External links