|Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum)|
Photo from: Chcuk Kime
The Ancients used the juice medicinally for its extensive heeling properties. It was added to food in small quantities to give it a fragrant effect. Too much spoils the food.
Romans used the powdered root is a condiment as much as liquamen. Barbara Flower recommends it for fish specially. It is thought that it was used for its aphrodisiacal effect and in food prepared for banquets especially. It was a major export from Cyrenaica as it grew in large quantities there but was extinct by Pliny’s time. Apicius provides two rcipes for Silphum Sauce.
In North Africa it was grown especially in Cyrene where it was cultivated for export. There it was used in medicine and in cooking. The Anon al Andalus calls for it in "Tabahaja," a dish of fried goat meat. Today, several Middle Eastern recipes call for asafœtida. [Anón/Huici.1966:250:149; Apicius/Flower. 1958:28-29:57; ES: Lord “Asafœtida,” posted Feb 28, 07; ES: Anon/Perry. Sep 5, 02; and Pullar. 1970:242]
APICIUS BOOK 1, XVI SILPHIUM SAUCE