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Romaine Reigns: The Caesar Salad Celebrates One Hundred Years

    Guess what’s turning 100? It’s the Caesar Salad, celebrating its centennial like a champ! “Not many dishes can boast a precise birthdate, but the Caesar salad proudly claims July 4, 1924, as its inception in Tijuana, Mexico.” As you whip up your version this weekend, try mixing half Caesar dressing with your favorite vinaigrette-style concoction. Your friends and family will think you’re a culinary genius—it’s the kind of salad mash-up that bridges borders tastefully. This Mexican delight has won over the hearts (and taste buds) of Americans everywhere!

    Legend has it that Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini crafted the dish on a sweltering July 4, 1924, at his eatery, Caesar’s Place, in Tijuana, Mexico. Caesar Cardini, born in northern Italy in 1896, made his permanent home in the United States in 1919. Settling in San Diego, he commuted daily to Tijuana in the 1920s to manage his restaurants. With a surge of thirsty Californians seeking refuge from Prohibition, Cardini found himself in a culinary predicament.

    Why Tijuana? It was just across the Mexican border, where he could legally serve alcohol during Prohibition. After Prohibition ended, business in Tijuana dwindled, prompting Cardini to leave Mexico behind. He went on to open several restaurants in Southern California, including Caesar Cardini Café in San Diego and Caesar Cardini Villa in Chula Vista, continuing to share his culinary talents with a new audience.

    Amidst the bustling dining room, Cardini improvised, tossing whole Romaine leaves with an assortment of pantry staples: garlic-infused oil, Worcestershire sauce, freshly squeezed lemons, eggs, and Parmesan cheese. And thus, a culinary star was born.

    Caesar Cardini was known for his unwavering commitment to his original recipe. In a 1987 interview, his daughter, Rosa Cardini, emphasized her father’s meticulous approach to crafting the Caesar salad. He insisted on using only the tender, inner leaves of Romaine lettuce, serving them whole so diners could enjoy the salad with their fingers. Cardini’s precision extended to every detail, boiling the eggs for exactly one minute before incorporating them into the mix. Notably, he refrained from using anchovies, maintaining the unique flavor profile that set his creation apart.

    After her father’s passing, Rosa Cardini took the reins of the family business in 1956, steering it to new heights. She expanded the product line, eventually introducing 17 additional dressings to the original repertoire. In 1996, the renowned dressing and dip manufacturer T. Marzetti acquired Cardini Foods.

    Today, T. Marzetti continues to honor Caesar Cardini’s legacy by selling dressings under the Caesar Cardini brand, ensuring his culinary contributions remain a staple in kitchens worldwide. All hail, Caesar!