Who doesn’t love a good Caesar Salad? It is one of those dishes that everyone loves. Moreover this classic can be found on restaurants’ menus all over the world. But do you know where it originated?, who invented it?, was it actually a man named Caesar? and what do we know about its history?. Well, The History of Caesar Salad may surprise most people, especially foodies who may assume it originates in Italy. But while the essence of the true Caesar salad is its simplicity, the salad’s history is anything but simple. Let’s take a look at the history of this salad, a popular favorite on Italian menus worldwide.

Who invented the Caesar Salad?

The History of Caesar Salad

Most people assume the Caesar salad was named after Julius Caesar or the Caesar family who ruled Rome-but it isn’t! The origin of Caesar Salad really have nothing to do with Julius Caesar. In fact, the salad’s creation is generally attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and the United States.The Cardini’s lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana to circumvent Prohibition. Americans would head down to Tijuana to drink, and frequent restaurants. The story goes, Cardini invented the salad at his restaurant Caesar’s when a Fourth of July rush in 1924 depleted the kitchen’s supplies. This is when Caesar looked around his kitchen and got creative.

An improvised salad

Cardini created this recipe with what he had on hand. He had romaine lettuce, garlic croutons, and Parmesan, boiled eggs, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Chef Cardini selected the perfect ingredients when he designed the salad. The result was obviously delicious. Moreover it resulted in a culinary classic that has withstood the test of time.

As part of the service, Cardini made a dramatic performance of mixing the salad as his guests watched. He tossed the ingredients with great panache and flair, much to the thrill of those around the table. The display was such a success, preparing a Caesar salad today continues in much the same fashion out of tradition. The salad was so tasty, Cardini decided to add it to the menu. It was a huge success and soon people started referring it as the “Caesar salad”, as that kind of salad could only be found at “Caesar’s restaurant”. The name stuck and the rest is history.

Disputed origin

Caesar's original Tijuana restaurant

Two years later, Cardini’s brother, Alex, started working with him at the restaurant. Alex, who had served in the Italian Airforce during World War I, added anchovies to Caesar’s concoction and dubbed it the Aviator’s Salad. However, Caesar reportedly disliked anchovies in the salad. He claimed that the Worcestershire sauce was enough to give the salad its faint fishy flavor. Some claim it was actually Caesar’s brother, Alex, who created the salad. Others claim that one of Caesar’s employees created the salad, but Caesar stole all the glory. No matter who made it, everyone agrees that it was created in Tijuana, Mexico.  

Cardini patented the dressing in 1948 because so many people copied his creation. He started Caesar Cardini Foods with his daughter Rosa. With this company, they began selling bottled Caesar salad dressing. The company continues to sell the bottled dressing to this day, the recipe relatively unchanged. 

Caesar Salad, a classic favorite salad

In 1953, the International Society of Epicure declared the classic salad, which by then was popular in Europe, “the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.” Over the years, the recipe has changed slightly. It always contains romaine lettuce, croutons, and Parmesan cheese. The dressing contains a variety of ingredients that every chef likes to play with a bit. Although many chefs have their recipe variations, a few recipe characteristics tend to remain the same.

Nowadays many restaurants are proud to have Caesar’s in the menu. You’ll find Caesar salad as a staple menu item at Italian, American and many other fusion restaurants. This salad is very tasty, nourishing, and wholesome. 

What is the original Caesar Salad recipe?      

Caesar Salad is one of the simplest but tastiest salads. Caesar Cardini’s original recipe includes six ingredients:

  • Lettuce
  • Raw egg
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic croutons
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Parmesan cheese, for finishing.  

While today’s recipe varies from place to place, many recipes include olive oil, balsamic vinegar, egg yolks, garlic, mustard, lemon, and anchovies. Cardini used Worcestershire sauce in his original recipe and subsequent bottled dressings, and remained adamant against substituting anchovies. Other common variations including different types of lettuce and toppings such as grilled chicken or shrimp.

Bonus Facts about the History of Caesar Salad

  • July 4th is National Caesar Salad Day because this is the Birthday of the Caesar Salad.
  • In the late 1930s, the Caesar salad was popularized in Europe by Walls Simpson, who, as the Duchess of Windsor, traveled widely with the Prince of Wales.
  • The Guinness Record for the world’s largest Caesar salad weighed more than three tons. It was prepared by Canirac restaurant in Tijuana on October 20, 2007. It took more than 160 participants to make it! 
  • As Caesar Salad popularity grew, so did the demand for Romaine Lettuce. There are nearly 80,000 acres of Romaine farms today. It is thanks mostly in part to fast food’s decision to top Caesar with grilled chicken and call it a health food.
  •  Caesar Salad was originally a finger food. Rather than chopping the salad leaves, diners were able to pick them up by the stems and eat them.
  • The original Caesar salad made by Cardini didn’t contain anchovies. It also only had one large crouton–not several like it is served today. 

When is the last time you had a Caesar Salad?

Caesar Salad is always a nice option to have on the table. Head on over to Villa Allen to sample our delicious Caesar salad, now that you know the interesting history of story behind it!. Both as a side or as a main dish, this delicious salad is a popular item at Villa Allen. Join us for a taste of history, contact us today!

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ABOUT ITALIAN VILLA RESTAURANT:

We are one of the premier Italian Restaurants in Allen, TX, offering home-made
traditional Italian cuisine.  Come visit us today at: 121-B N. Greenville Allen, TX
75002, Phone: 972-390-2189.

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