Posted by: Jack Henry | October 20, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Garum

What’s that phrase? “When in Spain, do as the Romans do.” Well, that’s not quite it, but anytime I go to a place where there might be Roman or Greek ruins, I have to explore. The Romans were amazing with their aqueducts and sewers and buildings, some of which are still standing. In Barcelona, the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona is actually built on top of the ruins of the Roman city, and on top of that the more Jewish version of Barcelona, and later the Christian city, and so on up to today.

One of the words I kept reading and hearing at the museum was garum, which I wasn’t familiar with. Hold your breath: I’m about to tell you what it is!

Here is some edited information from Wikipedia:

Garum was a fermented fish sauce used as a condiment in the cuisines of ancient Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. Although it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Roman world, the sauce was earlier used by the Greeks.

Pliny the Elder and Isidore of Seville derive the Latin word garum from the Greek γαρός (garos). Garos may have been a type of fish, or a fish sauce similar to garum. Pliny stated that garum was made from fish intestines, with salt, creating a liquor, the garum, and a sediment named allec or allex.[KC – Yum. Fish liquor!] A concentrated garum evaporated down to a thick paste with salt crystals was called muria; it would have been rich in protein, amino acids, minerals and B vitamins. Garum was used to salt foods, because it added moisture to the foods, whereas table salt extracted moisture from them.

Roman ruins (garum containers) under the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona.

Roman wine-making area, including grape crushing area, duct for juice, and storage vats.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

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