Since tomato sauce and pasta post-date the Roman Empire, I’ve often wondered what ancient Romans ate. One staple of their cuisine was garum, a fermented fish sauce. Some researchers on a PBS show were trying out a batch of homemade.
I have a book a about the rise of sugar as a commodity and its role in colonialism and modern European empires, especially the British. In it the author notes that the British consume much more sugar per head than the French. “It is not necessarily naughty to suggest,” he writes, that if their food tasted better the British wouldn’t have incorporated so much sugar into their diets.
I reason that the same probably goes for garum. If it was any good perhaps the Italians would not have bothered with spaghetti and marinara.