Do You Know the History of Caesar Salad? (it might surprise you!)

29 12 2009

In the 1930s, Caesar Salad was voted by the master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris as the “greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in fifty years.”

There is a common misconception today that Caesar salad was named after Julius Caesar and is Greek in origin. The truth is, Caesar Salad was invented by Caesar Cardini, an Italian cook, in Tijuana Mexico in 1924. Cardini and his family lived in San Diego, but started the restaurant, “Hotel Caesar’s” in Tijuana to avoid prohibition in the U.S. at the time. During an especially busy holiday weekend, Cardini was low on food and used the few ingredients he had to make a salad. His original recipe included romaine, garlic, croutons, Parmesan cheese, boiled eggs, olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. He went to each table and made the salad for the guests to observe. Soon the salad was a hit.

Where the Caesar salad was born: Hotel Caesar's restaurant in Tijuana

In 1926, Caesar’s brother, Alex Cardini, joined him at “Hotel Caesar’s.” Alex was an ace pilot for the Italian Air Force during WWI. He added other ingredients to Caesar’s original salad, including anchovies and called it, “Aviator’s Salad” in honor of the pilots from Rockwell Field Air Base in San Diego. Caesar rejected the use of anchovies in his salad and claimed that the Worcestershire sauce was enough to give the salad that light fishy flavor.

It became a popular thing to do, to drive to Tijuana and order a Caesar Salad. Many Hollywood celebrities like Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and W.C. Fields dined at Cardini’s restaurant and tried his salad. Even Julia Child visited the restaurant with her parents in the 1920’s when she was young and ordered the famous salad. Caesar came out like he always did and prepared it tableside. Julia later included this experience in her cookbook, From Julia Child’s Kitchen.

In 1948, Ceasar established a patent on the dressing which today is sold as “Cardini’s Original Caesar Dressing Mix,” distributed by Caesar Cardini Foods. His daughter Rosa Cardini, turned the salad dressing into a modern dining essential and helped create the million-dollar dressing enterprise.

Playa Grill has adopted the Caesar Salad to the menu which includes hearts of romaine, fresh lemon juice, anchovy, garlic topped with either char-grilled chicken breast or shrimp.

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