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Index / Food and Beverages /
Garum



Garum:
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Garum containers. Murcia, Spain. Photo: Rafael.

Garum:
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Dry Garum from the early stage of the production process. Photo: psalakanthos.

Garum:
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Garum brewing vats, Baelo Claudia, Spain. Photo: Chomiji.

Fish sauce of the Ancient Mediterranean societies, noted for its popularity in and during the Roman Empire. The sauce was probably of Greek origins.
Originally, the sauce was made from fish intestines and fish meat, from one fish at a time. This was usually mackerel, tuna or eel, though most other fish types could be used. The production process was one in which the ingredients were crushed, mixed with salt to ferment, or fermented in brine. The production was known for creating a foul smell, but ready garum had a pleasant odour.
The few places producing it enjoyed good revenues, Lixus (near Larache, Morocco), Cotta (10 km from Tangier, Morocco) and Neapolis (modern Nabeul, Tunisia) being among the few in North Africa.
Garum of the finest quality could be very expensive, but cheaper forms of fish sauces (with similarities in the production, known as liquamen, muria or allec (muria was the tuna garum)) were available to everyone. It was even thought to be an aphrodisiac, and could be used both as medicine as well as for cosmetics. Garum was a central ingredients used for several dishes when mixed with other ingredients, like wine, vinegar, pepper, oil and water.




By Tore Kjeilen