Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (2024)

Windsor

The caesar salad turns 100 years old today. Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini is said to have invented it on July 4, 1924, at his restaurant, Caesar's Place, in Tijuana. In dishing on the creamy romaine lettuce creation, Windsor, Ont., chef Michael Jimmerfield says: "I sure hope it's around for the next 100 years."

Michael Jimmerfield says he hopes caesar salad is around for the next 100 years

Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (1)

Desmond Brown · CBC News

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Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (2)

Chef Michael Jimmerfield absolutely loves caesar salad — the legendary medley of romaine lettuce, croutons and other key ingredients.

The dish,invented by Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini on July 4, 1924, at his restaurant, Caesar's Place, in Tijuana, Mexico, turns 100 today.

Jimmerfield, also a professor of culinary management at Saint Clair College in Windsor, Ont., believes caesar salad is here to stay.

"It's a staple, but it's one of my favourites as well," Jimmerfield told CBC Windsor Morning.

"I sure hope it's around for the next 100 years. I'm going to be eating it until the day I die, that's for sure."

Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (3)

It was a steamy night, and Cardini was struggling to feed an influx of Californians who had crossed the border to escape Prohibition.

In the middle of the dining room, Cardini tossed whole Romaine leaves with ingredients he had on hand, including garlic-flavoured oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemons, eggs and Parmesan cheese. A star was born.

Jimmerfield believes garlic is mostly responsible for keeping caesar salad on the menus for 100 years.

In fact, he said, he's found a lot of the modern incarnations "not garlicky enough … good fresh garlic is kind of the key."

Jimmerfield said while some people addbacon bits, they "really shouldn't" be included and "don't belong" in caesar salad.

Another common mistake people make in creatingtheir own Caesar salad is the dressing, according to Jimmerfield.

"Right now, almost every Caesar salad that you get [has] lots of really thick creamy dressing," Jimmerfield said.

"While it should still be rich and a little bit creamy, that's not necessarily the classic or authentic fashion. That emulsification of lemon juice or vinegar with the olive oil, the more fat you put in, the more olive oil you put in, the thicker your dressing is going to get. And authentically and classically, It should be not runny, but a little bit fluid-liquid, not super thick."

Jimmerfieldsaid"trying to cut a few cents on the Parmesan quality is a mistake."

Took a few years to hit mainstream

Unlike some other menu items from the early 20th century — think creamed liver loaf or aspic — caesar salad remains a perennial favourite.

Around 35 per cent of U.S. restaurants have Caesar salad on their menus, according to Technomic, a restaurant consulting firm. Nearly 43 million bottles of caesar salad dressing — or $150 million worth — have been sold in the U.S. over the past year, according to Nielsen IQ.

Beth Forrest, a professor of liberal arts and applied food studies at the Culinary Institute of America, said it took a few years for caesar salad to hit the mainstream. A recipe for it didn't make TheJoy of Cooking,one of the most popular American cookbooks, until the 1951 edition. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, caesar salad was often prepared tableside, giving it an air of spectacle and sophistication, Forrest said.

Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (4)

Forrest said caesar salad is ideal for the Western palate because it contains our two preferred textures: crispy and creamy. The egg yolks and Parmesan cheese are also high in glutamate acids, which give the salad the rich, salty taste known as umami.

"It satisfies us in many hedonistic ways, while we can still feel virtuous. It is, after all, a salad."

Caesar's many variations have also given it staying power, experts say.

At Beatrix, a chain of five restaurants in Chicago that makes healthier versions of comfort foods, chef and partner Andrew Ashmore spreads a spoonful of yogurt-based dressing at the bottom of the salad bowl and mixes it with capers, parsley, lemon vinaigrette and champagne vinegar before adding little gem lettuce, baby arugula, bread crumbs and a generous shaving of Grana Padano cheese.

"It's our number one-selling saladand it has been since we opened 11 years ago," Ashmore said. "I couldn't try to take it off the menu if I wanted to."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (5)

Desmond Brown

Web Writer / Editor

Desmond Brown is a GTA-based freelance writer and editor. You can reach him at: desmond.brown@cbc.ca.

With files from Windsor Morning and The Associated Press

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Hail caesar — the creamy salad turns 100 today. This Ontario chef dishes on why it'll remain a staple | CBC News (2024)

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