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Caesar Salad – Made in Italy

From Lake Maggiore to Mexico: the (Made in Italy) story of Caesar Salad

This is how the Caesar Salad came about: hungry aviators, an Italian chef and the ingredients he had on hand.

reading time3 minutes

All of you will have eaten a Caesar salad at least once, but if you think its name is a tribute to the famous Roman emperor, you are way off the mark. This dish, which was recognised as America’s national dish in 1953 and is among the most popular recipes prepared by American families on the Fourth of July, actually has 100% Made in Italy origins and gets its name from the chef who invented it: Abelardo Cesare Cardini, born in 1896 in Baveno (VB).

After the First World War, Cardini emigrated first to California, where he opened a restaurant with his brother Alessandro, and then to Mexico in Tijuana, where he was successful.

Caesar salad: from improvisation to success

It was here, in fact, that on 4 July 1924, finding himself short of supplies and having to feed a group of US pilots from the Rockwell Field Air Force, who had come to Mexico to escape the prohibition still in force in the USA and celebrate Independence Day with alcohol, he prepared a dish with the ingredients he had on hand. And while embellishing it with an ante litteram cooking show, he arranged on each diner’s plate lettuce leaves, toasted breadcrumbs, grated cheese, hard-boiled eggs and a dressing of his invention made of lemon juice, olive oil, egg, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. The recipe was an instant hit. Initially, it was called ‘the aviator’s salad’, but almost immediately became ‘Caesar’s salad’. Over the years, customers such as Prince Edward VIII wanted to eat the dish even in the most luxurious restaurants in Europe.

Today, some evolved versions include grilled chicken or fried bacon, which were not present in the original version.

Caesar Dressing

A record-breaking salad

In 1948, Cesare Cardini began bottling and selling his famous dressing in the Cardini Store Food in Los Angeles so that everyone could easily make his famous salad on their own. In 1953, the influential International Society of Epicure in Paris declared Caesar Salad (already famous in Europe) ‘The greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years’.

After Caesar died in 1956, it was his daughter Rosa who was responsible for the enormous growth of this dish’s popularity. In 1988, on her retirement, she had a record-breaking Caesar Salad prepared in Tijuana: a huge salad bowl that fed 3,000 people!

Congratulations to those who never lose heart and bring Italy’s creativity to the world!!!