Re: Garum and spices
- DONALD FISK <hibou@...> wrote
>Yes, but you have to allow for the snob value as well. Many spices were
>I think heavy use of spices in the Ancient Roman diet is because they
>didn't like bland food.
imported from the east and fantastically expensive - at least until the
Romans discovered the monsoon winds when the price of pepper came tumbling
down. And even then it was hardly cheap, and still exotic. St Jerome writes
in the fourth century about pepper and other exotic oriental spices which
were for the cognoscenti only. The trouble is, as Marco has already noted,
Apicius and Pliny and friends were writing as members of an upper class for
an upper class audience only. Christians like Jerome were scornful of what
seemed to them an excessive interest in food, so it is only rarely we hear
anything from them on the subject. The only ancient sources that deal with
popular food and methods of preparation are the Jewish Talmudic sources. I
am starting to think of a long-term project on food in the Talmud, so if any
list members have any suggestions or bibliography on this subject I would be
- Also don't forget that even if meat was not 'putrified' it was not always fresh
as we know it. Preseving of food via salting requires long periods of soaking
to correct, this then leaves food somewhat bland and still rather salty and
requires some form of spicing to overcome. In Italy today one still popular
food is 'baccala' or salt cod. This is traditionally eaten on fridays with
chick peas and needs two days soaking and frequen water changes to soften. It
is then cooked with parlsey, garlic, olive oil and white wine and 'flaked'.
Salted meat is harder to de-salinate than fish. Apicius talks of covering meat
with honey to preserve it and smoking was also used.
DONALD FISK <hibou@...> wrote
> >I think heavy use of spices in the Ancient Roman diet is because they
> >didn't like bland food.