This green mayonnaise is the best accessory for cold salmon or trout, hard boiled egg or cold fish in aspic.
Garum and other similar fish-based sauces were the ketchup of the ancient world, mass produced in factories by the Romans, and sprinkled on anything savory. They usually made several versions: a dark-colored table condiment that was high in protein, a cooking sauce similar to Thai and Vietnamese fish sauces (sometimes called liquamen by historians, though often grouped together with garum), and a milder version called muria, explains food historian Sally Grainger. The fall of the Roman empire meant the end of its mass production, but the art of the fish sauce was not lost in Italy. The modern-day version, colatura di alici, is a saltier mixture of all three sauces.
While Italy may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of fish sauce, several companies on the Amalfi coast continue the ancient traditions. Today’s colatura is a clear, amber liquid made from fermented, salted anchovies and sold in tiny, elegant glass bottles. It is often described as the great-grandfather of Worcestershire sauce. “There is only a difference of a few ingredients, but colatura tastes better,” Grace Singleton, managing partner at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, tells me.
Zingerman’s, based in Michigan, started carrying the condiment around 15 years ago, when co-founding partner Ari Weinzweig found himself in the Amalfi coast town of Cetara, where it has been made for generations. After tasting it for the first time, Weinzweig knew he had to carry it in his store. It took a year to get all the labelling right for US importation, but it was worth it. Since then, the sauce has had a steady following, Weinzweig tells me.
Everyone who has tried it remembers the exact moment when colatura di alici and taste buds first met. For Matt Armendariz, who runs the food blog Matt Bites, it was in Italy, in an aioli sauce. “My mind was blown. It had this umami flavor and I asked the chef why it was so delicious, and he said he used colatura di alici. I just fell in love with it,” Armendariz fondly recalls.
The amber sauce, which is fermented traditionally in chestnut barrels, is an inexpensive way to add depth and flavor to dishes, says Singleton. A little glass bottle will set you back on average $15, but you only need a sprinkling to bring a new dimension to food.
It is also the key to a quick and simple pasta dish popular in the Amalfi coast. Any kind of long, thin pasta is mixed with garlic, chili-infused olive oil and a little colatura di alici for an unmistakable savory rich flavor that belies its simple ingredients. Armendariz recommends sprinkling it on ripe tomatoes or putting a few drops on grilled steaks and other meats to make the flavor pop. Singleton favors using it in place of salt in dishes, since it does double duty by both salting a dish and accentuating its flavors.
Despite its fishy origins, don’t think of it as a fish sauce, says Armendariz, who refers to the flavor enhancer as a “genie in a bottle” on his blog. It’s a true secret ingredient for the modern age, taken straight out of the ancient world.
Roman Garum was a fermented fish sauce used as a condiment in the cuisines of ancient Greece, Rome, and Byzantium. Liquamen was a similar preparation, and at times the two were synonymous. Although it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the Roman world, the sauce was earlier used by the Greeks.
When mixed with wine (oenogarum, a popular Byzantine sauce), vinegar, black pepper, or oil, garum enhances the flavor of a wide variety of dishes, including boiled veal and steamed mussels, even pear-and-honey soufflé. Diluted with water (hydrogarum) it was distributed to Roman legions. Pliny (d. 79) remarked in his Natural History that it could be diluted to the colour of honey wine and drunk.
You might have noticed that Liquamen was listed among the
ingredients on my Medieval Monday post a few days ago.
You can find old recipes for Garum here
Vanilla is the only fruit-bearing member of the orchid family and is native to central Mexico. The ancient Totonac Indians of Mexico were the first to learn to use the fruit of the Tlilxochitl vine, vanilla pods. After their defeat by the Aztecs, they were forced to relinquish control of the exotic fruit.
The Aztecs were, in turn, defeated by the Spanish, who returned home with the precious vanilla beans – which were for many years, enjoyed only by the nobility and the very rich. Eventually, the use of vanilla, while still quite expensive, became widespread throughout Europe.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. While serving as Ambassador to France, he learned the use of vanilla beans, and when he returned to the United States, brought vanilla beans with him.
Today, vanilla beans are grown in several distinct regions of the world. This produces vanilla beans with unique regional characteristics and attributes, each particularly suited to different uses.
Madagascar, the world’s largest producer of vanilla beans, is the source of the famed Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and still produces the world’s finest and most consistent vanilla. (Incidentally, the term “Bourbon” has nothing to do with the liquor produced in Kentucky – but rather, derives its name from the old name for Madagascar – the Bourbon Islands.)
Madagascar Bourbon vanilla is considered to be the highest quality pure vanilla available, typified by a creamy, sweet, smooth, mellow flavor. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla is known for its “staying power”, which makes it especially suited to pairing with rich foods.
Mexico, where vanilla originated, now produces only a small percentage of the harvest. Mexican vanilla beans, grown by skilled producers that carefully harvest and cure every pod. It’s this process that produces Mexican vanilla of exceptionally high quality and flavor.
Spicy Mexican vanilla is known by its creamy flavor that complements dishes that contain chocolate, cinnamon and other warm spices. A teaspoon or so of Mexican vanilla in tomato sauces or with citrus can also help reduce acidity.
Long a favorite of professional bakers and pastry chefs, Tahitian vanilla is known for its aromatic, fruity, cherry, anise-like flavor profile. Tahitian Pure Vanilla has a particular affinity to fruity flavors such as fruited yogurts, sorbets and fruit toppings.
Text from earthy.com
An easy condiment recipw found on homecooking.about.com
Mustard is one of those condiments that comes in many flavors, textures, and varieties. While most Americans are all too familiar with the smooth, bright yellow store-bought varieties, it would be a shame not to experience the more complex flavors of homemade varieties. If you’re new to mustard-making, this recipe is a great place to start. This basic country mustard is a pungent, grainy, all-purpose mustard that uses both coarsely ground mustard seeds and mustard powder.
Worcestershire sauce has its roots in India, but was actually created by accident in its namesake town of Worcester, England in 1835. As the story goes, Lord Marcus Sandy had returned home to England to retire after successfully governing Bengal, India for many years. He so missed his favorite Indian sauce that he commissioned drug store owners John Lea and William Perrins to come up with a reasonable facsimile.
The original intent of the chemists was to keep some of the batch to sell in the store, but the fish and vegetable mixture had such a strong odor that they decided otherwise and stored it in the cellar. It lay forgotten for two years, until it was rediscovered during a clean-up mission. The batch had aged into a wonderfully flavored sauce which was bottled and quickly became a hot item with customers.
It soon became a British staple, primarily as a steak sauce, and further emigrated worldwide. The guarded recipe basically remains the same. However, the advertising no longer purports to “make your hair grow beautiful.”
Text from about.com
Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick, salty meat extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston. It is sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar. Bovril is made in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire; owned and distributed by Unilever UK.
Bovril can be made into a drink by diluting with hot water, or less commonly, with milk. It can be used as a flavouring for soups, stews or porridge, or spread on bread, especially on toast in a similar fashion to Marmite and Vegemite.
In 1870, in the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III ordered one million cans of beef to feed his troops. The task of providing all this beef went to a Scotsman living in Canada named John Lawson Johnston. Large quantities of beef were available across the British Dominions and South America, but its transport and storage were problematic. Therefore, Johnston created a product known as ‘Johnston’s Fluid Beef’, later called Bovril, to meet the needs of Napoleon III. By 1888, over 3,000 UK public houses, grocers and dispensing chemists were selling Bovril. In 1889, the Bovril Company was formed.
Bovril continued to function as a “war food” in World War I and was frequently mentioned in the 1930 account “Not So Quiet… Stepdaughters of War” by Helen Zenna Smith (Evadne Price). One account from the book describes it being prepared for the casualties at Mons where “the orderlies were just beginning to make Bovril for the wounded, when the bearers and ambulance wagons were shelled as they were bringing the wounded into the hospital”.
A thermos of beef tea was the favoured way to fend off the chill of winter matches for generations of British football enthusiasts; to this day, Bovril dissolved in hot water is sold in stadiums all over the United Kingdom. Bovril beef tea was the main warm drink that Ernest Shackleton’s team had to drink when they were marooned on Elephant Island during the Endurance Expedition.
When John Lawson Johnston died, his son George Lawson Johnston inherited and took over the Bovril business. In 1929, George Lawson Johnston was created Baron Luke, of Pavenham, in the county of Bedford.
Bovril’s instant beef stock was launched in 1966 and its “King of Beef” range of instant flavours for stews, casseroles and gravy in 1971. In 1971, Cavenham Foods acquired the Bovril Company but then sold most of its dairies and South American operations to finance further take-overs. The brand is now owned by Unilever.
Bovril holds the unusual position of having been advertised with a Pope. An advertising campaign of the early 20th century in Britain depicted Pope Leo XIII seated on his throne, bearing a mug of Bovril. The campaign slogan read: The Two Infallible Powers – The Pope & Bovril (See picture #2 at the top of the post).
Since its invention, Bovril has become an icon of British culture. It is commonly associated with football culture, since during the winter British football fans (mainly in local league level or division two) in stadium terraces often drink it from thermoses (or disposable cups in Scotland, where thermoses are banned from football stadiums).’
During a 2011 episode of Top Gear, James May drank from an urn of Bovril while driving a snowplough in Norway and commented: “We all know that when it’s snowing and it’s cold you have Bovril. That’s a rule of life.” Bovril reappeared in another episode of Top Gear in the form of Jeremy Clarkson’s V8 Food Blender, wherein it was used to make a “Man’s V8 Smoothie” complete with raw beef and brick.
Text from Wikipedia