Laser is a spice
known to the Ancient Rome
from near the Greek
colony of Kyrene in modern-day Libya
, used extensively as a flavor enhancer (the word "umami
" comes to mind). It was said to be from the fennel
family, somewhat like asafoetida
in strength, but tastily pungent and milder -- it was also used for birth control, and as a tea. Pliny
gives detailed instructions for identification and harvesting, but cautions the last known stalk of it was presented to the Emperor Nero
. The bane of all who seek to emulate Apicius
, efforts are now underway to identify and rebreed this valuable commodity.
In my own form of reconstructed Roman cookery, I use Worchestershire sauce, or pine nuts soaked in it.