Who Invented the Caesar Salad?
For me, the Caesar Salad has been around as long as I've held a fork. Given the monumental name "Caesar", I spent most of my life assuming that this was some kind of "centuries old" and "passed down" salad dressing recipe, that perhaps traced its roots all the way back to ancient Rome, Greece, or maybe even somewhere in the Mediterranean.
Its a simple enough salad recipe that could have been used generations ago. The recipe I'm familiar with (my favorite) consists of Romain lettuce, chopped anchovies, lemon juice, pepper, oil, vinegar, ... ingredients that were available back then. Seems plausible right?
I was surprised when I found out who invented the Caesar Salad. So much so that I never forgot the story, and have brought it up at many dinner tables. Most people are surprised to hear the origin of the Caesar salad recipe, and so I thought this would make a great hub. Let's explore who invented the Caesar Salad, how it came to be marketed, and then the different variations of the Caesar dressing recipe that are used today.
Meet Caesar Cardini
There are a few variations on the story that I'm about to tell you, but this is the one I read about years ago, and the one I tell at dinner tables:
Caesar Cardini was an Italian immigrant who moved to the US in his early 20's. He managed a restaurant in Sacramento, then worked in the restaurant business in San Diego, and eventually owned his own restaurant in Tijuana (where he could avoid the hassles of prohibition). The name of the restaurant? Caesar's Place. The restaurant was very popular and was visited by Hollywood personalities all the time.
One late night in 1924, on a busy 4th of July weekend, he had a surprise visit by some very high profile Hollywood guests. Short on supplies, he whipped up a salad dressing with the few ingredients he still had on hand....and .....the guests LOVED it, making the recipe an instant success! When asked for the name of the salad, he responded with "Caesar's Salad". The recipe went on to become a main staple of his restaurant.
Caesar eventually took his family and salad recipe to Los Angeles, where he then went on to market his dressing -- "Cardini's Original Caesar Dressing".
A number of Caesar Cardini's restaurant staff claim to be the originator's of the recipe...and even his brother Alex has claimed to have invented the Caesar Salad, only his original name was the "Aviator" salad. The main difference between the two recipe's is the fact that the Aviator Salad uses anchovies.
No matter who really invented the Caesar Salad, it's named after Caesar Cardini.
Original Caesar Cardini Recipe
- Romaine Lettuce
- Olive Oil
- Lemon juice
- Worcestire Sauce
- red wine vinegar
- Raw egg yolks
- Black pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
The "Aviator" Salad Recipe
- Romaine Lettuce
- Olive Oil
- lemon juice
- Cooked Eggs
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Croutons brushed with garlic Oil and topped with Anchovie Paste
Some of the other popular variations include:
- Grilled Chicken
- Romano Cheese
The BEST Caesar Salad I ever had was made by a Greek chef (a former employer) down in Lauderdale by The Sea.. Every morning he blended up a mix of fresh anchovies, garlic, lemon, .......and some ingredients he didn't care to share with anyone. His legendary Caesar Salad literally brought business in on its own.....so I never questioned his secrecy. Maybe someday I'll get the kitchen lab out and see If I can come close ;)