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Caesar SaladThe Caesar salad, waiting for its dressing. Photo courtesy McCormick.
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January 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Vegetables

Caesar Salad History

The Origin Of One Of The World’s Favorite Salads

 

CAPSULE REPORT: This is Page 1 of a four-page article about the Caesar salad history, including the original recipe (it had no anchovies!). Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

 

Caesar Salad History

According to Joie Warner, who wrote an entire book of Caesar salad recipes, the Caesar is America’s favorite salad.

It was not named after Julius Caesar. Even though he lived in what is now Italy, with access to lots of anchovies and Parmigiano-Romano cheese, the Caesar salad wouldn’t be invented for more than two thousand years—by another Caesar.

Most food historians agree that Caesar salad is the creation of Cesare (later Caesar) Cardini. Born near Lago Maggiore, Italy in 1896 (a 33.5-mile long lake that extends from Switzerland southwest into Italy), Caesar emigrated to the San Diego area with his brother Alex after World War I. During Prohibition, they started Caesar’s Restaurant on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana, Mexico, not far over the border, in order to serve alcohol.

An Incidental Creation On July 4, 1924

According to Caesar’s daughter Rosa, what would become one of the world’s favorite salads was created by necessity on a busy July 4th at the restaurant, in 1924. As the story goes, the supplies began to run out, and Caesar created the salad with what was on hand. To add flair, he prepared it tableside, which was popular for certain dishes in fine dining establishments. It became a hit with the Hollywood set and entered into history. In 1948, he began to sell the dressing commercially, under the name Cardini’s The Original Caesar Dressing. Today the same company sells Caesar croutons (a white bread, rye and pumpernickel mix) and other dressings.

Others lay claim to the recipe—including Caesar’s brother Alex, a partner of the Cardini brothers and an 18-year-old kitchen worker. A historical anecdote: Julia Child, who was born in Pasadena, California, dined at Caesar’s Restaurant as a teen and had Caesar salad made tableside by Caesar himself. (Born in 1912, she was 12 years old the year it was invented.) Years later, she contacted Caesar’s daughter to get the original recipe.

By the way, another famous salad, the Cobb Salad, entered life in a similar manner, in 1937. Necessity is certainly the mother of invention in the realm of salads.

 

Continue To Next Page: Original Caesar Salad Recipe

 

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