Around the World in 80 Plates: Caesar and His Salad

Have you ever wondered “Which Caesar?” when you’re eating a Caesar salad? Many people think of the former Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, who was also Cleopatra’s boyfriend when she began her reign of Egypt. While there is no proof that he didn’t make this particular salad, historians are pretty sure Julius Caesar was not a master salad maker.

There are a few different stories claiming that their hero was the inventor of the Caesar salad, but there isn’t any proof to support any of them. The most popular origin story of the Caesar salad as we know it states that it was made with food and ingredients leftover from a busy weekend, because there were hungry customers in the cafe but very little food left. This story says that in 1924, Caesar Cardini, an Italian man running a restaurant in the Hotel Caesar in Tijuana, Mexico, had a cafe full of people celebrating the 4th of July, but no food for anything that was on his menu.

What was he to do?!

He gathered a few things that he thought would taste pretty good together, two big spoons, a big bowl, and he drove it all into the dining room on a cart. Once he was at their table, he tossed all the ingredients together in a showy demonstration of salad making. The customers were so happy that they came back again and again, and brought their friends too, so that they could have a salad made by Caesar. This is a pretty good story right? It might be true, and it might not be, since we don’t have any more proof than someone claiming they’d made it first. Either way, its a really good salad!

Caesar salads are still popular, and the dressing, or ready-made salads, are available nearly everywhere in the United States. It is a lot more fun to make it at home if you get to do a table-side toss, and serve it to the table though. Want to know how?

From left: Captain Sal Cillo, Maitre d’Hotel Mauricet Doligene, and Captain Richard Biely help each other out in creating the perfect Caeser. (photo by Libby Volgyes/ Special to the Palm Beach Post) Palm Beach Post

Start with the dressing: Add ingredients one or two and a time, stirring in between until you have it all mixed up. This does make enough for a big table of people!

Next add the lettuce; There is no set amount, just add what you’d like to eat, or enough for the number of people at the table. Toss the lettuce to coat them each with dressing, then stack the lettuce neatly on everyones plate. Add a sprinkle of cheese, a few croutons and a sprinkle of salt and pepper (if your guests agree to it) and voila! You’ve done a tableside salad service! Good job Chef!

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