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Cheryl Catzman on the History of the Caesar Salad

February 21, 2013

The Caesar salad has achieved the kind of place in culinary circles few dishes can hope to attain in the short decades of its existence. Though some may assume that the Caesar Salad is a recipe from deep antiquity having some relationship to Rome’s first emperor Julius Caesar, the true origin of the dish comes from 1920s Tijuana, Mexico. Italian restaurateur Caesar Cardini immigrated to San Diego following World War I, and opened a restaurant in Tijuana in order to circumvent prohibition laws in the United States.

Originally, the dish consisted of large leaves of romaine lettuce drizzled with dressing that included coddled eggs, Worchester sauce, and Italian olive oil, and it was intended to be eaten with one’s hands. Culinary icon Julia Child fondly remembered being taken to the restaurant as a child and watching Cardini prepare the salad.

There is some controversy about the inclusion of anchovies in the recipe. Cardini’s brother, however, added them to the original recipe when he opened three restaurants in Mexico City. In the 1940s, Caesar Cardini patented the formula for the dressing and began selling it out of his distribution company, located outside Los Angeles.

About the author: Cheryl Catzman is a retired schoolteacher who taught for over 40 years with the Peel Board of Education in Brampton, Ontario. She loves to cook and has found preparing healthy Greek and Caesar salads a satisfying alternative to the more popular, but fattening recipes passed down from her family.

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