In ancient Roman cuisine, garum, a nonalcoholic fermented fish sauce, was a staple of every kitchen and a necessary ingredient of countless recipes. Archaeologists recently discovered a Roman-era factory for the condiment near Ashkelon on the Israeli coast, as Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:
At the 2,000-year-old site, located a mile and a quarter northwest of the city of Ashkelon, [the Israeli archaeologist] Tali Erickson-Gini’s team uncovered several installations that, when taken together, left the archaeologist with little doubt that she was looking at a rare Holy Land garum-production center, or cetaria. Though there are few examples in the eastern Mediterranean, . . . in the Iberian Peninsula, specifically Malaga, there are several installations that mirror what she has uncovered in Ashkelon. . . .
In addition to evidence of fish pools, the team uncovered giant plastered vats, jars used for storing liquid, and what appears to be a large receptacle to hold the strained goopy substance.
While fish pools have been found elsewhere in the region, there is only one other identified location in Israel that may possibly have produced the garum, said Erickson-Gini. According to what has so far been excavated, the Ashkelon site was not a major factory, and was possibly mainly for local use. . . .
There are several types of garum, and even a strictly kosher version called garum castimonarium that was guaranteed to be made only from kosher fish.