Re: [Apicius] Garum and Liquamen (again)
- However, this does leave me looking again at his paragraph on the topic, a
bit confused. It seems like the first sentence is definitely about allex
(since, you know, he names it specifically), and it seems generally agreed
that "ad colorem ... dilutum" refers to garum (as opposed to allex). And it
seems to be generally assumed that the reference to kosher products would
be about garum, or fish-sauce in general. But then in the last sentence he
explicitly mentions allex again (where he mentions oysters, sea urchins,
jelly fish, mullet livers, and so on). So I don't know what to tell you.
I think you have hit the nail on the head re this bit of confused rambling by Pliny. I really dont think he knows what he is talking about to be honest It is one of the major problems we have with his work as he was inclined to just write out everything he could find about a given topic without any judgement or critical thinking and this often leads to confusion. I think this is the reason why it makes no sense, he didn't fully comprehend what the individual products were he was discussing, and in fact if that is the case then we cannot trust any of it! He was, according to his nephew, inclined to read everyone else's works on a given topic and then makes notes so that he could precis their knowledge for his own books (letter 3.5). We have to assume that the books he read were written by people with some empirical knowledge of the topic even if he clearly demonstrates limited empirical knowledge. The reversal of the kosher issue implies considerable lack of attention and I guess he was rather indifferent to the topic. His diet is also referred to in the letter above as being very simple and traditional. Pliny the elder would not be included among those who indulge in Roman delicacies I feel. Having determined that Pliny is somewhat confused we have to find other references to the issues that seem to make no sence and see how much of it is supported elsewhere Pliny should not be used as a primary source for garum that for sure.
Pliny but also the Romans generally do seem to be confused by the complex nomenclature of fish sauce and I think their confusion feeds ours.
Pliny refers to garum as a elite and expensive sauce made from fish viscera and waste matter generally and I have made the judgment that this must have originally referred to the blood viscera sauce which we know was considered elite and expensive according to the Geoponica. It does not follow that the waste matter he referr to would necessarily be other small fish - thus turning the blood viscera sauce into a general fish sauce. ( I originally did think this but have changed my mind) I assume the more expensive garum was made from selected fish ie all Spanish mackerel for instance from New carthage mentioned by Pliny as costing thousands of HS or all tuna viscera as mentioned by the Geoponica. Thus the ordinary garum would i think be made from a mixture of any old fish viscera and blood. It is not easy to harvest fish blood from mackerel, easier for tuna if large enough, but when done well - note - 'made from the blood of a still breathing mackerel' is indicative of the technique required - the resulting sauce could be both black and bloody which is how this sauce is described by Galen and also a bloody sauce is referred to in a papyrus fragment. If however the fish are not adequately bled then the sauce - here i can demonstrate through empirical experience as i tried to make a garum with already dead mackerel and could not get much blood out of them - would resemble an ordinary fish sauce made from whole small fish the liquefied liquamen . Ie it is pale - dark brown and they are indistinguishable from each other though the protein levels are actually quite high in the viscera one. Interesting! When at table how would a diner know what he was consuming? A black bloody viscera sauce blended with sweet wine would look brown - aged honey wine, a liquamen blended with wine would look like aged honey wine and an inadequately made garum would look like aged honey wine. Like most luxury foods if you dont know that you are eating expensive food you often could not guess.
Pliny then in the next paragraph talks about allec being the residue of this garum but believe me the residue from blood viscera garum is not fit for consumption even for Cato's slaves!. We know from the Geoponica that allec / alix was the residue from the sauce made from whole fish and here we see that Pliny thinks in terms of one sauce - the single sauce hypotheses - that Robert Curtis et al also edvocate. The Geoponica is quite clear that the two sauces were separate. Once we see Pliny's confusion and even why he might be confused i think it puts the paragraph about allec into perspective. We cannot look for any rational or logical thought processors within the Latin. Given this I will look again at the allec passage - maybe i am expecting too much of the latin as it stands.
From: Justin Mansfield <iustinus@...>
To: Apicius <Apicius@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Sat, 21 Jul 2012 19:59
Subject: Re: [Apicius] Garum and Liquamen (again)
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