Garum and roman cooking

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Garum was the most appreciated and used sauce in Roman cooking. Its flavour, possibley strong and aromatic, would not be to current tastes.

Of all the products found in the Roman markets, the most valued were the condiments and those which most produced speculation. They reached exorbitant prices, genuine essential culinary treasures in good Roman cooking.

One of the characteristics of this cooking was the abundant use, as a condiment, of fish sauces. The best known, garum, was used and prepared in a thousand different ways. Effective use depended on the ability of the cook to ration out the garum, which was used to add flavour to dishes; excessive use could turn a delicacy into a nauseating dish.

Garum was freshened with a number of products, from which it was given different names. When it was mixed with water to dilute it it was called hidrogarum, with wine oenogarum, with vinegar oxigarum, with oil oleogarum, or with with pepper pipegarum.

Although it is difficult to know exactly what flavour it had, judging by the methods used to produce it, it is easy to guess it would have a strong, acid aroma, and would not be much to current tastes.