Who Invented the Caesar Salad?

Obviously, Julius Caesar, around 62BC he insisted to start having a salad with his meals. This being his favorite, he ruled that the name “Caesar Salad” be used. Upon his death in Rome, Italy March 15, 44BC, others tried the salad and it became popular.

NOT! Really, it was an Italian immigrant, Caesar Cardini, who is usually credited with the creation. He lived in San Diego in 1924, but his restaurant, Hotel Caesar, was in Tijuana, Mexico to avoid problems with prohibition. On July 4th, 1924, the kitchen was being deleted of supplies, due to an unexpected large number of guests.

Caesar used what he had and whipped up the special salads right at the guests table to add a touch of flair. Everybody loved them. The main ingredients of the original Caesar salad is romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with lemon juice (or lime juice), olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Julia Child remembers eating this salad at Cardini’s Restaurant, as a youngster, back in the 1920’s.

Caesar Cardini was born near Lago Maggiore, Italy, in 1896. He, and his brother Alex, emigrated to the U.S. after World War I. Some dispute his claim of inventing the salad. A partner of Caesar’s, Paul Maggiora claimed that he invented the salad in 1927 for the American Airmen coming down from San Diego. He called it the “Aviators Salad”. Caesar’s brother, Alex Cardini, also lays claim to the salad that was called the Aviator Salad. Livio Santini, a chef in Caesar’s kitchen said that the salad was a recipe of his mother and that Cardini stole it from him. Even if one of these others are correct, it still came from Caesar Cardini’s restaurant.

In 1938 Cardini moved to Los Angeles where he opened a gourmet food store. His patrons followed, arriving with empty wine bottles for him to fill with the dressing. In 1948, the demand for Cardini’s famous dressing made him decide to bottle it and to establish Caesar Cardini Foods with his daughter Rosa.

Three years before Cardini’s death in 1956, the master chefs of the ‘International Society of Epicures’ in Paris proclaimed Caesar’s salad as “the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.” Caesar’s restaurant in Tijuana was visited, a lot, by many folks from, and visiting, San Diego, for the chance to party and drink booze and in later years due to word of mouth of the great food. The Caesar Salad was soon known all over!

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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