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Who Invented the Caesar Salad?

Updated on September 2, 2017

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.

Source

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".


Source

Controversy?

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
  • salt
  • Black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons



The "Aviator" Salad Recipe

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Olive Oil
  • lemon juice
  • Cooked Eggs
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Croutons brushed with garlic Oil and topped with Anchovie Paste
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Some of the other popular variations include:

  • Capers
  • Bacon
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Romano Cheese

Secret Recipe

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 ;)


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    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks AliciaC :), yep I love telling that story at dinner parties, always seems to catch people by surprise, Glad you liked it :)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Caesar salad is my favorite salad - I love the taste! Strangely enough, I've never stopped to wonder how the name originated. Thanks for the interesting information, howlermunkey - and thanks for the recipes, too!

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks for the great comment TIMETRAVELER2! I consider myself to be a "newbie" when it comes to blogging, so your feedback is sincerely appreciated.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      TIMETRAVELER2 5 years ago

      This was really interesting. I have a tendency to not wonder about things like "who invented it"...but it's always fun to find out these things. This was nicely written and kept my interest all the way through. Good job and voted up.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks snowdrops, I'm actually making one right now hahaha. (late night snack).

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      I love Caesar Salad! One of the best!

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      ROFL, dude I choked on vino twice this week cuz of you hahahaha. Obvey Pitch 3 is a blockbuster hit, (although pitch 4 strikes my curiosity).

      Personally, I like Caesar Cardini as a young karate Kid, "wax on and wax off" for the Wishbone Master.

      "Your Dead" says the french dressing skeleton crew...

      Or what about "Cardini Redemption" where poor Caesar was imprisoned for making fake dressing, only to escape by crawling through a fast food restaurant drive thru window....

      then ends up on some far away beach where only his friend, "honey mustard" knows where it is

      "Ranch wuz here"....

      You come to a point Window Pain, you either start dressing, or start drying.......

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 5 years ago

      "Seriously, someone oughta make a movie about Caesar Cardini's life ...."

      -----

      I’m on it!

      Pitch A (Sci-Fi): Directed by James Cameron. “Caesar Cardini, working aboard the deep space botanical research vessel invents Caeser’s Salad so people will start eating the Romaine lettuce which has grown wildly throughout the air ducts and engineering decks. Everyone is saved, until it’s discovered that the Anchovies are sentient beings. Interspecies war ensues.”

      Pitch B (Comedy): Starring Rob Schnieder. “Caesar Cardini is a down-and-out loser, such a loser that children pee on him and dogs make fun of him. It only gets worse when his head starts spouting romaine lettuce instead of hair. Then after some bullies pour olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce on his head and then pelt him with eggs – Caesar’s Salad is invented! Hilarity ensues.”

      Pitch C (Action): Starring Jason Statham. “Caesar Cardini invents a salad, and beats the crap out of anyone who doesn’t like it. Violence ensues.”

      Pitch D (Art Film): Directed by David Lynch. “A stop sign waves erratically in a strong wind. Lightning strikes in the background, but gives off no thunder. A person sits and stares at a romaine leaf... for days and days. No plot, no storyline, none of the characters have names or ever speak. Critics call it ‘atmospheric’. Caesar Salad? nowhere in the move, it was just the title, has nothing to do with this film. Bafflement ensues.”

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Caesar Salad is such a pleasing, delicious, simple palate cleanser that nobody could not like it. My Filipina friend makes the best version. Hers has finely chopped anchovy and crisp bacon bits.

      I must admit I never associated its creator with anybody named 'Caesar' unless it was the original. As with Madeira cake, I just eat the stuff!

      Anyway, C. Cardini seems to have led a most interesting life.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks Debby :) , yep I'm starting to think I wasn't alone in thinking this was some kind of "ancient" recipe. Seriously, someone oughta make a movie about Caesar Cardini's life .... Italian Immigrant that came to America to work in restaurants, Ran a restaurant in Tijuana during prohibition that Hollywood stars liked to escape to...,came up with "Caesar's Salad!" on the fly (now a household term), moved his family to LA to market his dressing.., family and staff claim that "they" invented the dressing, good story if you ask me. I bet Caesar Cardini has some great stories to tell about some of the guests in his restaurant during the prohibition days in Tijuana....

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Wow! Jeff - I had no idea the origin of Caesar Salad, nor the variety of recipes. Happy Days, Debby

    • thesingernurse profile image

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      This is very interesting. Now this is what I say, "learning in Hubpages". I love eating such type of salad even though it tends to be so expensive in our area. I also thought it had originated from some greek or roman personality because it was called "caesar".

      Thank you for imparting these information with us. Will be doing the same in sharing this to my Hubber friends.:)

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 5 years ago

      As a kid I always called it 'Seizure' salad and my brother and I would act like idiots having seizures. Our German parents didn't put up with that crap for long!

      Yes, a well made Caesar Salad is awesome, but the White Spot restaurant up here makes such a boring Caesar Salad and they charge $9 for it! (ingredients: wilted romaine, white mystery sauce, and nothing else not even a single measly crouton! The cretins!)

      Now my mouth is watering!

      Oh, and I once ordered a Caesar Salad from McDonalds, but ODDLY it didn't look anything like the photo.

      You know, whoever is photographing McDonald's food for their pictures could make a fortune photographing ugly people and making them presentable.

    • livingpah2004 profile image

      Milli 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks for sharing the story. Salad looks great.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 5 years ago from Alabama

      Interesting story. Yummy salad.

    • howlermunkey profile image
      Author

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Thanks vampsdes! Yep, anchovies really set it off in my opinion, you can start by chopping a few up and sprinkling on top

    • Vampsdes profile image

      Vampsdes 5 years ago from Missouri, US

      Well you learn something new every day! I guess I was ignorant bliss this whole time thinking, as you did, that the Caesar salad had been around for much long than that! This was very interesting, I've never had with anchovies before. Perhaps will try that soon! Voted up and interesting!