The Caesar Salad is undoubtedly one of the most famous salads in the world, but its origins are a bit surprising. It doesn’t have deep Italians roots like many believe, nor was it named after a Roman Emperor. The salad was a desperate attempt to feed a hungry crowd after a restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico had depleted kitchen supplies. We thank Caesar Cardini for his quick thinking and creating this iconic dish.
The way the story is told Italian born chef, Caesar Cardini, emigrated from Italy and started his career running a restaurant in Sacramento. He then went south to open restaurants in San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. Business below the border was booming, as many Americans who lived close would travel there to enjoy libations during Prohibition. On a hot July 4th day in 1924, Cardini had discovered he was running short on supplies after an unexpected rush of customers. In order to keep business around, he concocted a salad and dressing using ingredients he had left in the kitchen.
The famous dressing of Italian olive oil, coddled eggs, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce was prepared tableside by Cardini. Romaine lettuce leaves were tossed with the dressing then arranged on a plate with the stems pointing out. The salad was meant to be eaten leaf-by-leaf using your hands to pick up each stem. Its popularity quickly grew, eventually leading to the demand of bottled Caesar dressing and Caesar’s salad to be named “the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years” by The International Society of Epicures in Paris.