Sauces - History of Sauces
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The word "sauce" is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing. Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial. Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn't last long. Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of tainted foods.
200 A.D. - The Romans used sauces to disguise the taste of the food. Possibly to conceal doubtful freshness. According to the article Food & Cooking in Roman Britain by Marian Woodman:
The main course, or primae mensai varied both in the number and elaboration of dishes. Roast and boiled meat, poultry, game or other meat delicacies would be served. No dish was complete without its highly flavoured and seasoned sauce. Contrary to present day preference, the main object seemed to be to disguise the natural taste of food - possibly to conceal doubtful freshness, possibly to demonstrate the variety of costly spices available to the host. Sometimes so many ingredients were used in a sauce it was impossible to single out any one flavour. One Roman cook bitterly complained that some of his fellow cooks 'When they season their dinners they don't use condiments for seasoning, but screech owls, which eat out the intestines of the guests alive'. Apicius wrote at the end of one of his recipes for a particularly flavoursome sauce, 'No one at table will know what he is eating'. These sauces were usually thickened with wheat flour or crumbled pastry. Honey was often incorporated into a 'sweet-sour' dish or sauce.
Highly flavoured sauces often containing as many as a dozen ingredients were extensively used to mask the natural flavours of Roman food. The most commonly used seasoning was liquamen, the nearest equivalent today being a very strong fish stock, with anchovies as its main ingredient. This was so popular that it was factory-produced in many towns in the Roman empire.