Celebrating One Hundred Years of Caesar Salad: From Tijuana to Bordeaux

July fourth was the one hundred year anniversary of the Caesar Salad, one of my absolute favorites. The salad’s four-day celebratory festival taking place in Tijuana, Mexico ends today (July seventh). Tijuana you ask? It was there the salad was concocted by Césare Cardini, an Italian immigrant who arrived in Tijuana in 1920. His restaurant was appropriately named Cesare’s and his salad, the Caesar.

I had no idea Tijuana was its birthplace, instead thinking somewhere in the United States… perhaps San Francisco where many Italians landed in the 1880s, or perhaps Chicago, having lived there and enjoyed many Italian feasts.

So today, in Bordeaux, France where the French version of the salad is nothing like the original, nor is it like those many have come to love in the United States, Canada, and of course Mexico, I celebrate with photos sharing some favorites.

As far as homemade, the top prize goes to my dear friend Mel Scott. He uses the same wooden bowl each time, positing its necessity when making a salad for four people. Into it, he puts anchovies, one chopped garlic clove and lemon juice, mashing them with a pestle. Next, a few shakes of Worchestershire sauce, freshly ground black pepper, and a coddled egg.

He stirs this with a fork until well combined, then slowly adds extra virgin olive oil, again using a fork to whip it in. Finally, a small amount of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. At this point, taste testing is done to make sure no additional ingredients are needed.

After the base dressing is complete, he adds torn or cut romaine lettuce, pushing it down into the dressing, but no stirring!

Next comes homemade garlicky croutons. He uses a baguette or another artisan bread to make his version.

Homemade croutons elevate the taste of a Caesar salad and put store bought to shame!

Finally, the grating of a good amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top. And still no stirring – there’s a specific way to serve yourself.

Caesar salad bowl
Mel grating Parmesan cheese over his Caesar Salad. Using aged Parmigiano-Reggiano results in an incredible depth of flavor, don’t skimp!

Taking tongs, you plunge them straight down into the bowl and grab a hunk of salad, as seen in the top photo. This is done a few times until you get your desired amount. That’s it! I then mix the salad on my plate and dig in. This Caesar salad version is indeed a festival in your mouth!

Mel making his Caesar salad dressing with his wife.
Caesar salad with grilled skirt steak is excellent with Flora Springs Wild Boar Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine we opened that evening.

There are many versions of this salad worldwide. Most copy those currently made in the United States, which are variations of César Cardini’s original salad. Regardless of your favorite, there is one to please every palate. I leave you with a few other notable Caesar Salads enjoyed in the past.

Lark's restaurant Ashland, Oregon Caesar salad
Lark’s Home Kitchen Cuisine Caesar Salad with chicken, Ashland, Oregon
Caesar salad The Waterboy Sacramento California
The Waterboy makes the best Caesar salad in Sacramento, California. If you happen to visit Sacramento, don’t miss this restaurant, which also has a super wine list!  
best Caesar salad Porta del Vento Sicilian wine
And here is one of my versions with grilled Romaine and Boquerones enjoyed in Bordeaux and excellent with Porta del Vento‘s Mira, a Sparkling wine made with the Sicilian grape Catarratto. I note it was too hot to turn the oven on in our apartment without air conditioning, so no homemade croutons.

7 thoughts on “Celebrating One Hundred Years of Caesar Salad: From Tijuana to Bordeaux

  1. Lauren Walsh

    Fabulous, Lynn! I love your idea to top the salad with bouquerones – what a flavor burst!

  2. Allison Wallace

    The things we learn from you…Tijuana as the birthplace of Caesar salad. Nope wouldn’t have called that in a million years. It’s a favourite in our house too so will be passing on Mel’s recipe to the resident chef ;).

    1. Lynn Post author

      There are a few interesting articles out there on how the salad made its way into the States and other countries, if you feel inclined. Meanwhile, hope your chef enjoys making this version!

  3. kay ferrier

    Wow! that is a gooey Ceasar! Bread squares and cheese with some gooey lettuce. Yum.
    CUTE pic of Mark! He looks 30 years old there



    1. Lynn Post author

      Yep, gooey deliciousness! He wasn’t that young… he’ll appreciate your comment!


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