TIL of Garum, a type of fish sauce which the romans adored. It smelled so bad that Garum factories could only be found outside the city walls, but it was still the ancient world’s favorite topping, which accompanied most of their foods

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Check out Tasting History on YT. Max Miller tries to recreate it with good results. I’m curious to try it and Parthian chicken as well.


I think it was like the fish sauce used in Asian cooking today (like nam pla in Vietnamese). You can get some at the grocery store.


Supposedly, Worcester Sauce is either an attempt at recreation (by 19th century chemists Lea and Perrin in Worcester, England) or a distant descendant of Garum via an unknown route.


It was MSG. Made by mashing up sardines, covering in rock salt and leaving outside in the summer sun for a few weeks/months in a covered vase. Apparently Roman food could be quite bland and crack for the taste buds was welcomed.


They also loved an ancient herb they called silphium so much that they harvested it to extinction. Partially because they thought it was both an aphrodisiac and a contraceptive. Yeah. Just eat this plant that kind of looks like garlic, you’ll fuck better AND you won’t get pregnant! We have no idea whether it worked or not for all the things they used it for (probably not), but the point is, the Ancient Romans *thought* that it did. So they used as much of it as they could get their hands on. Since it only grew in a tiny region in the eastern Mediterranean, they gobbled it up until nothing was left. Interestingly, we still have no idea which plant it actually was, or what it was related to. We have no samples to compare, and one of the only things we have to go on to identify it is Roman artwork, which isn’t very consistent. Some have speculated that it was a variety of giant fennel, or that it might even still be around, but no one knows for sure. All we do know is, nothing exists today that matches up exactly with the plant the Romans described as silphium, and they wrote about it a lot. They were a little obsessed with it. Moral of the story, the Ancient Romans were some weird motherfuckers.