Welcome to The Garum Factory, our two-cents worth in the struggle to keep what you cook tasty, interesting and easy enough that you actually want to spend time in the kitchen. This blog is about how to cook what we cook at home.
Who are we?
Jody Adams and Ken Rivard, wife and husband, chef and writer. We like hanging out around our stove, preferably with wine and company. For more detail check out our bio.
What’s garum and why does it need a factory?
Garum is a Roman condiment (Roman as in Roman Empire; not Roman as in Silvio Berlusconi). It’s made from rotting fish and judging by references to classical Roman cooking found in the few culinary treatises remaining from the 4th to the 7th centuries they were positively wild about it. For we moderns, at least in the West, there’s a kind of lurid slow-down-for-the-car-crash appeal when reading about garum, an incredulity at recipe instructions for salting mashed fish intestines, letting them ferment in the sun and then collecting the juice that seeped through the bottom of the basket.
The Romans knew that a really interesting ingredient could transform an otherwise ordinary dish into something with depth and flavor. Thai fish sauce, nuoc mam, is a close approximation to garum. So is terasi, Indonesian shrimp paste. Anchovy paste is close, and Worcestershire sauce is a distant cousin. (What, you didn’t know that Worcestershire included anchovies in its ingredients? Read the label.) You don’t eat or drink any of this stuff straight, you just add a bit to your Vietnamese noodle soup or Welsh rarebit. And then bang, everything tastes like it was made from homemade stock.
What does any of this have to do with our site?
We love garum. And harissa and preserved lemons and slow-roasted tomatoes and any of the dozen other ingredients that we use to boost flavor. We use all this stuff when we cook at home, and the The Garum Factory seemed like a much cooler name for a blog than anything with the word home in it. By the way, you can see the ruins of a real Roman garum factory here.
Who cooks at home?
Ken mostly, but Jody too. We have a haphazard culinary life–Jody works most nights, our daughter Roxanne is often in an evening dance class, and Ken, who works at home, sometimes ends up cooking food in the afternoon that everyone eats later that night. Jody pitches in on nights off, and on weekends we invite friends over.