Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Ides of March: Caesar Salad


A classic Caesar Salad is made of romaine lettuce dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, egg (raw or lightly coddled), Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, parmesan cheese. This mixture is tossed in a wooden bowl, then sprinkled with croutons, adding texture.


The Caesar Salad is generally believed to have been invented in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 4,1924 by Cesar Cardine, an Italian immigrant and restaurateur. Originally, the leaves were arranged on a plate so that they could be eaten as finger food.

Greatly enjoyed by Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor), she helped to popularize it both in the United States and Europe. Julia Child , also a Caesar Salad enthusiast, has said she was served by Cesar Cardine himself when she was a child.

In 1956, three years before Cardine's death, the master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris proclaimed the Caesar Salad to be "The greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years"!

In the late 70's Caesar Salad was discovered by the fast-food industry, resulting in an amazing increase in the production of romaine lettuce--from almost no production in the 70's, to the cultivation of more than 16,000 acres in the 90's, to today's growing of over 80,000 acres. With his sister Rosa, Cardine produced Cardine's Original Famous Caesar Dressing which is still available today.


--Romaine Lettuce (sometimes called Cos Lettuce because it came fro the Aegean Island of Cos)--Look for boldly colored, firm heads, heavy for their size and with tightly closed leaves. Select heads that have been cut close to the leaf stems. Avoid heads that are wilted and leaves that have brown edges, rust, or holes. Large white milky ribs and some leaf tips on outer leaves can be quite bitter.
--Eggs--Purchasing eggs from cage-free, organically-certified and organically-fed chickens will help to assure quality and freshness while significantly reducing any potential of salmonella poisoning.
--Croutons--For authenticity, prepare croutons from a loaf of rustic Italian bread.


--Romaine Lettuce--Rinse and dry the lettuce, place in plastic or special "greens" bag for refrigeration up to one week.
--Eggs--Store eggs in coldest part of the refrigerator and never leave unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Throw out any eggs which have an odor or any cracks or breaks.
--Croutons--Croutons will last about 1 week if stored in an airtight container on shelf or in refrigerator; up to 6 months if stored in a freezer in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. If croutons contain butter, store in refrigerator or freezer to avoid rancidity.


--As an appetizer course, a salad course, an entree for lunch or dinner
--Dressing sometimes includes pounded anchovies or anchovy garnish, garlic, Dijon mustard, blue cheese, and/or capers.
--Salad variations include grilled chicken, bacon, meat, shellfish or fish.
--Buon appetito! Cin-cin!

--There is a special tossing technique used at tableside which requires the tosser to skillfully break 2 eggs onto the romaine, then gently roll over and round the leaves.


July 4 is National Caesar Salad Day.

The Ides of each month was a standard way of saying the 15th of the month And the Ides of March was originally an especially festive day, celebrating the God Mars. On this day In 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death, after having been forewarned by a seer on his way to the Senate. Subsequently The Ides of March has become a symbol of foreboding, as immortalized in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar--"Beware, the Ides of March."

According to the Guinness Records, in October 2007, Tijuana Mexico broke the world's record for the largest Caesar Salad, weighing in at over 2 tons!

"Bewitched" had an episode about Samantha's attempting to make a Caesar Salad and having to call on Julius Caesar or help.

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