The ancient Spartan melas zomos (μέλας ζωμός), or black soup / black broth, was a staple soup made of boiled pigs' legs, blood, salt and vinegar. It is thought that the vinegar was used as an emulsifier to keep the blood from clotting during the cooking process. The armies of Sparta and Athens mainly ate this. It was not a delicacy, it was used for sustenance.
According to legend, a man from Sybaris, a city in southern Italy infamous for its luxury and gluttony (which gave rise to the word sybarite), after tasting the Spartans' black soup remarked with disgust, "Now I know why the Spartans do not fear death". In another story, it is said that Dionysus, the despot of Sicily, for the sake of this bought a slave who had been a Spartan cook, and ordered him to prepare the broth for him, sparing no expense; but when the king tasted it he spat it out in disgust; whereupon the cook said, "Your Majesty, it is necessary to have exercised in the Spartan manner, and to have bathed in the Eurotas, in order to relish this broth."
No recipe for the Spartan black soup has survived, but blood soups are still eaten in various countries today, such as Italy and France.
Famous quotes containing the words soup and/or black:
“Food probably has a very great influence on the condition of men. Wine exercises a more visible influence, food does it more slowly but perhaps just as surely. Who knows if a well-prepared soup was not responsible for the pneumatic pump or a poor one for a war?”
—G.C. (Georg Christoph)
“Richard. Give me a calendar.
Who saw the sun today?
Ratcliffe. Not I, my lord.
Richard. Then he disdains to shine, for by the book
He should have braved the east an hour ago.
A black day will it be to somebody.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)