Para comer, para bebir: cómo comer, cómo bebir – cómo vivir!

How to make “garum”:

Throw into a vessel and salt: the intestines of fish, especially small fish, such as atherinae, small mullets, maenaelycostomi,… really any small fish.  Salt them all.  Season them in the sunlight, turning frequently.  Filter through baskets and yum, you have your “garum.”

Recipe adapted from a 10th Century Byzantine manual.  Like soy sauce, this fermented product is rich in MSG: as in, umami-heavy.  It widely spread across the Roman empire.

The Phoenecians probably settled Malaka in the 7th Century BCE.  Found deep beneath the site of the Museo Picasso Málaga were amphora containing garum.  Even deeper were the Phoenecian walls and a bath, and a ramp for wagons.  Pictured here are the street outside the current museum, the garden inside with a shallow pool for doves and pigeons, and the amphora.

The moutains and hills of Andalucía are covered with immaculately spaced, precisely ordered olive trees.  Interspersed throughout are almond trees, now in late January starting to bloom in their lovely pink.  Some rockier hills have groves of cork trees, most of them with stripped trunks.  In every city there sprout rows and rows of orange trees, some lemons, and some persimmons.  Most of the ravens and crows seem to favor the persimmons.

The Mercado Central de Atarazanas in downtown Málaga is a food market mecca at any time of year.  Try to imagine the smell of the freshly plucked oranges, almonds, olives, the salted cod and jámon, the piping pastries.  I especially love the fishmonger’s photos of his two rowdy boys.  And oh, those Iberian spices.

Would that our Walmarts, seemingly off every interstate highway exit, would function as stalls for local producers in this way.  Rather than palettes of RFID-tracked and hyper-efficienctly supply chain-optimized row after row of the industrialized, subsidized commodity food products, I lean toward the basket of hand-plucked and vinegared olives.

Efficiency certainly has its benefits, but it also results in great brutality.

Find me under the re-approrpiated whitewashed Moorish arched vaults with a glass of fino jeréz (“sherry”).


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