How to make Garum, the most famous of ancient Roman ingredients.
June 19, 2020 8:03 PM   Subscribe

The Tasting History YouTube channel recreates the ancient Roman ingredient garum from ancient texts. Max Miller's Tasting History YouTube channel recreates the ancient Roman ingredient garum from ancient texts, byzantine and latin. And then he makes it at home, and shows you how, while keeping in mind how garum was used and viewed by its very famous contemporaries.
posted by Slap*Happy (40 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
*watches interestedly in southeast asian*

i often wonder if there's a linguistic link between garum and garam (which is salt in the malay/indonesian languages)
posted by cendawanita at 8:09 PM on June 19 [9 favorites]


No, he doesn't cover southeast Asian fermented fish sauces... he covers two of them and one from Korea. Also Lea & Perrins' Woo Water.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:20 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


And yes, it's kind of amazing that "Maru" is very similar to "Mare". Metafilter's linguist Valkyries will be along shortly to declare my wrongness without explaining, as we're lay-folk.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:25 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


L&P's one has been called out for basically 'borrowing' a recipe from the 'Far East' (provenance remains unclear but many suspect Indonesia), so I guess that counts, 'lol'. And I see him mentioning Vietnamese and Thai fish sauces, but somehow we've fallen under 'East Asia', ha.
posted by cendawanita at 8:33 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


oh oh, i forgot to add, i was interested to see if the southeast asian connection is mentioned as i believe any history of garum would be remiss if it doesn't mention that since it's quite evident it's the region where the custom of preparing it still remained to this day.
posted by cendawanita at 8:36 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


yo is this cute dude married

asking in the name of science

and history

and good eats

posted by Kitchen Witch at 8:37 PM on June 19 [7 favorites]


alas per Twitter it seems he is soon to be married and not to me

I will drown my disappointment in garum

posted by Kitchen Witch at 8:40 PM on June 19 [20 favorites]


Ditto. Wondered if there was a Garam Masala connection.
posted by phigmov at 8:46 PM on June 19


Ooh, this is like a good, not-shitty Alton Brown!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:48 PM on June 19 [6 favorites]


That was fascinating, and this seems like a really interesting channel that I'll be watching more of!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:59 PM on June 19


You can...buy garum now? It's not a common item and it is expensive, but it's not "lost." There's some (bought on sale) in my cabinet right now. (Sorry if that's explained in detail in the video--I don't have the time to watch the whole thing.)
posted by praemunire at 10:04 PM on June 19


I bought a bottle of the Italian stuff which claims to be a modern equivalent, but on examination it proved to be just anchovy juice. Not at all a bad thing to have, but not quite the ancient garum as I understand it.
posted by Segundus at 10:39 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


This guy is sweet and delightful and funny. I've been binging.
posted by jrochest at 11:13 PM on June 19 [3 favorites]


And yes, the vibrant electric blue eyes are mesmerizing.
posted by jrochest at 11:14 PM on June 19


Coincidences in two syllable words between completely unrelated tongues are to be expected fellas. Only so many possible phoneme sequences.
Most famously, there was an Australian language called Mbabaram in which the word for dog was.... "dog". No relation.
posted by efskap at 11:28 PM on June 19 [13 favorites]


I really enjoyed this! Also really dug the PBS vibe, it really felt like something I might have run across while idly channel surfing the public broadcast channels at odd hours.
posted by yasaman at 11:28 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]



Ditto. Wondered if there was a Garam Masala connection.

Garam as in garam masala just means hot (not as in chillies or temperature, I suspect it refers to the humours).
posted by tavegyl at 2:52 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I get the limitations of what he can pull off, but his end product is unfermented -- basically oversalted fish stock. Which, opinion of the Geoponics aside, is like making cream of wheat and calling it witbier.

But the host is really charming and the show is well produced, and now I'm subscribed to another YouTube channel, so thank you for that!
posted by penduluum at 5:36 AM on June 20 [5 favorites]


There are garum factories all over Lisbon, hidden underground in the ancient Roman ruins. There's still plenty of related fish pastes (mostly made from sardines and anchovies) that you can buy in the supermarket.
posted by chavenet at 5:49 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


And yes, the vibrant electric blue eyes are mesmerizing.

He is Joaquin Phoenix and Matt Bomer's beautiful, impossible child.
posted by erinfern at 7:01 AM on June 20 [4 favorites]


The Noma Guide to Fermentation has a whole section on Garum, though the only seafood related ones are squid garum and shrimp & rose garum (one is bee pollen!). It's the full two-month ferment, but the book assumes you've built a fermentation chamber similar to the one they provide instructions for in a previous section. Not much discussion of odor handling, though!
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:25 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I'm glad he mentions the likely kosher garum (garum castum) found at Pompeii. Pliny describes it as being made only from fish without scales, but historians now think Pliny understood the explanation wrongly (it would have to be made only from fish *with* scales, since fish and other seafood without scales are not kosher).
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:53 AM on June 20 [6 favorites]


“ L&P's one has been called out for basically 'borrowing' a recipe from the 'Far East' (provenance remains unclear but many suspect Indonesia), so I guess that counts, 'lol'. And I see him mentioning Vietnamese and Thai fish sauces, but somehow we've fallen under 'East Asia', ha.
posted by cendawanita at 8:33 PM on June 19 [2 favorites +] [!]”


What are some references for this claim or the calling out? My googling may be off but I haven’t found any in a few searches.
Lea & Perrins’ official mythology around Worcestershire sauce has long claimed it was based on a recipe from Bengal/India and then tweaked (L&P added fermented fish purportedly is one version of this) - this was no secret but something they promoted. I remember watching a UK kids’ TV explanation of this in the 1980s. How true that is, who knows, it may just be ye olde corporate brand storytelling.
But I’m not sure why L&P would concoct an elaborate story claiming its sauce recipe has Colonial Indian origins to cover up Indonesian ones.
(BTW, Locally-produced, locally-owned non-L&P Worcestershire sauce is known in Indonesia as Kecap Ingris (“English Sauce”): https://www.amazon.com/Kecap-Ingris-Worcestershire-Sauce-625ml/dp/B00FKFAI5M )
posted by Bwithh at 9:49 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I'm at 1:23 and am already WTFing. Thailand and Vietnam are in East Asia? That weirdly dismissive-yet-faux-humble apology for his pronunciation?
posted by desuetude at 9:50 AM on June 20


Previously.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:21 AM on June 20


Re: L&P - yeah, I know I saw it on twitter months ago (after the food insider account tweeted a fluff piece about the product) but I'm truly sorry but I can't find it at the moment, but I think this was one of the citation, where it quotes the official company internal history to be a big old shrug.

Fwiw, I am aware of the Bengal claim, but worcestershire sauce looks and tastes like a southeast Asian fish sauce more than anything else, in addition to Bengal not being known for this stuff. Though the pleasant fiction that a British guy would think to suggest fermented fish strikes me as funny, but only because I keep reading about how western office food pantry etiquette includes not having tuna in the shared fridge (pls don't @ me, I know Anglos eat fish but this small thing always amused me).

And the ingredients list honestly reads more like the fish sauces of this side of the region ie maritime southeast asia, with the tamarind, chilli, and molasses substituting for palm sugar combo. Though as I said, that's really just conjecture on our part.
posted by cendawanita at 10:49 AM on June 20


Lea & Perrins' Woo Water

Lea & Perrins whatnow?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:35 AM on June 20 [3 favorites]


I first heard of Garum in The Supersizers Eat... Ancient Rome.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:08 PM on June 20


When he was going on about the haimation that would rest in a sealed vessel for two months that would subsequently be pierced I figured he was going to ferment in vacuum sealing bags. But no, he made a super salty fish stock.
posted by St. Oops at 1:33 PM on June 20


Joining the chorus to agree that this is a neat idea for a channel, but garum might not have been a great choice because if you're making something that was always understood to be fermented without fermenting it you're kind of missing the point. (The point being MSG. I mean, it's MSG! It's the best part of everything!)
posted by joechip at 2:55 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


He is adorable and I love this nerdy look at ancient fish sauce (a joy of life in its modern Asian incarnations.). Also now I want to make Roman mussels and then all the other food of antiquity. After that if someone can figure out what ancient Greek music sounded like I'll might finally stop longing for time travel.
posted by bearwife at 5:00 PM on June 20 [1 favorite]


I went into an Asian market on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. I was looking for fish sauce, like the liquid that came with the Pho I used to buy at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant. I came across this stacked up shipment of what looked like antique whiskey bottles, containing fish sauce. Then I read the label, which was burned into my memory. I went like this, made from fish, in cement ponds, killed with dynamite, and left to ferment in the sun, all under the strictest sanitary conditions, in The People's Republic of China.

I kid you not about this, and I have tried in vain to find that brand again. Along with the Mutant Strands of Gelatinous Coconut, both items appeared on that day. I found a tasty sauce, to buy, and I assumed most of them were made by the most expedient method.
posted by Oyéah at 5:41 PM on June 20 [8 favorites]


I have tried in vain to find that brand again.

...But when you went back, the shop wasn't there anymore?
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:10 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Different strokes and all, but I am utterly agog at how many commenters sincerely found him enjoyable to watch. Quibbles with the content aside, I found him...um, not to my taste.
posted by desuetude at 6:18 PM on June 20


Hey this guy's mom was my high school humanities teacher, glad he's now making ancient fish sauces
posted by crosley at 11:58 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


I found him...um, not to my taste.

Can you expand on that?
posted by StarkRoads at 6:23 PM on June 21


Lea & Perrins whatnow?

Woozers Shire saws. War Chest Is Here sooows. Woostah, Shooa? sauwrce? Woo Water works better. Is got fermented fish in!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


I found him...um, not to my taste.

So despite my comments upthread I totally understand. He's a little theatrical and his commentary is kind of monologue-y and it gets off-putting after a while. YMMV.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 1:58 AM on June 22


I was watching a documentary on the recent finds along the coast of Kerala where they found remains of trade with the Roman Empire. Now, according to Plutarch; the trade imbalance was something that the Roman Empire was seriously dealing with; as all Indians wanted was Gold in return. (Aside: the modern day Madurai still has goldsmiths that make necklaces with the same dimensions as Roman Sestertii). One of the only things that they wanted in kind was Garum. The documentary showed the base of the large Garum Urns that were being imported.

I was wondering why then is Garum or something like Garum, not a part of south Indian cooking, if this was a delicacy that was imported into the country? I mean, when chili peppers, tea etc were introduced to India, they were big hits. Why was garum then discarded?
posted by indianbadger1 at 1:59 PM on June 22



I was wondering why then is Garum or something like Garum, not a part of south Indian cooking, if this was a delicacy that was imported into the country? I mean, when chili peppers, tea etc were introduced to India, they were big hits. Why was garum then discarded?



The West Roman empire fell?
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:00 PM on June 25


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