National Caesar Salad Day commemorates a time-honored tradition on July 4th. Although a classic Caesar salad dressing includes a few ingredients that make some people a bit squeamish, it’s still one of the most popular salads around. And the flavor is undeniably a name-making recipe.
- The salad was created by Caesar Cardini, an Italian Immigrant who got into the restaurant business in the US and Mexico.
- Cardini invented the recipe at his Tijuana restaurant, Caesar’s Bar and Grill, in 1924. Apparently they were running low on inventory during a 4th of July party and the dish was concocted using random ingredients found in the kitchen.
- Cardini Opened His Restaurant in Mexico to Avoid Prohibition. Caesar Cardini was born in northern Italy in 1896, and settled permanently in the United States in 1919. He eventually moved to San Diego and would commute daily to run his restaurants in Tijuana during the 1920s. Why open restaurants in Tijuana? Because it was right across the Mexican border, and he could serve booze there during Prohibition!
- The original recipe did not contain anchovies. Instead, Cardini used Worcestershire sauce in both his original recipe and bottled varieties.
- The Guinness Record for the world’s largest caesar salad weighed in at a little over three tons. It was prepared by Canirac restaurant in Tijuana on October 20, 2007 and required a team of 160 participants.
- Caesar salad is primarily responsible for an increase in romaine lettuce production.
- It was originally served as a finger food. Rather than chopping the salad leaves, diners were able to pick them up by the stems and eat them.
- Cardini knew that he had something good on his hands, so in order to capitalize on his invention, he opened a shop on Los Angeles’ Beverly Boulevard in 1938, where he and his family made and sold his signature dressing. It was a success, and in 1948 he established Cardini Foods with his daughter, Rosa. The company continues to sell the bottled dressing to this day, the recipe relatively unchanged.
- There’s a Very Specific Sequence to Making the Dressing.
- Most traditional recipes call for coddled egg instead of raw egg. An egg is coddled by submerging it in hot water very briefly, only for a minute or so, and then cracking it into the dressing to form the emulsion.
- It Was Originally Prepared Tableside to Take Pressure off the Kitchen.
- Julia Child ate at the original Caesar’s as a child with her parents, and recounts in her book From Julia Child’s Kitchen how “Caesar himself rolled the big cart up to the table, tossed the romaine in a great wooden bowl, and I wish I could say I remembered his every move, but I don’t.”