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Food in Pompeii

by VM Brasseur on June 18th, 2007

There is a restaurant in Pompeii. Like all things in that town it’s there for the tourists, serving up big steaming plates of historical kitsch [1]while, I’m sure, still somehow managing to cater to the lowest common denominator of visitors[2].

However for a limited time this summer this restaurant is going to offer dishes which were offered at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. Things like peaches with cumin (and garum) and pork with dried figs and cheese[3].

After reading this article I was inspired to perform a quick web search to find other ancient Roman recipes. Sure, I own a hardcopy of Apicius like any self-respecting Classicist-cum-foodie. But that wasn’t handy and the trusty internet[4] was there for me. I turned up this brief but interesting page on the food and drink of Pompeii.

All this got me thinking that perhaps I need to host a Roman meal. Sure, some things could be a challenge (for instance, where exactly does one acquire 1000 larks in this day and age?) but overall I think it could be fairly doable with a little effort and ingenuity.

After mulling this over a bit I found something which has all but convinced me that I need to try this: Zingerman’s sells GARUM! Can you believe that? OK, so maybe it might not be 100% authentic. Maybe it’s an oil rather than a sauce. But, dammit, it’s close enough in my book to qualify as a full-fledged omen.

Now I just need to keep an eye on Zingerman’s webpage and be sure to swoop in and score my own bottle of garum the moment it’s back in stock. Then I can start the search for those larks… [5]

1: I have absolutely no facts to back up this assertion. I’m merely extrapolating from my experience with other restaurants at popular tourist attractions.
2: i.e., Americans
3: That garum isn’t included in the ingredient list must be either an oversight or a translation error.
4: Bless them tubes.
5: Kidding. I won’t make larks’ tongues. But mostly just because it’s such a waste of the rest of the lark. Duck tongues, now, that’s a different matter…

From → Food

4 Comments
  1. suomynona permalink

    Thai Fish Sauce is readily available and prepared very similar to Garum.

    I have a bottle if you liked to try.

    I’d suggest wanting somethign fshy flavored.

  2. I have fish sauce. It’s not what I want for this.

  3. Update from Zingerman’s: their next order of garum colatura won’t be in until July sometime. Pre-order isn’t possible on the web but is via email/phone. So I have a bottle reserved for me.

    Man, I love the Zing.

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