In food history one of the most controversial topics is the emperor of all salads, The Caesar. If you have never tossed a classic Caesar salad for your friends then you ought to try it. There is a real technique that makes it so special. While you are rolling instead of tossing the whole Romaine leaves in the wooden bowl to develop the perfect creamy dressing, you may want to mention 2 of the many stories that talk about the first Caesar salad that was ever tossed.

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Caesar salad wasn't named after Julius Caesar as some sources say, the evidence to show that is thinner than the garlic slices mob boss Pauly shaved with a razor blade in the movie Goodfellas. The first Caesar was most likely tossed by either Caesar or his brother Alex Cardini.

The brothers both came from Italy after the world war 1 and settled in San Diego, Ca. Caesar ran his own restaurant bearing his name in Tijuana and Alex was chef of a competing restaurant near by. When it burned down he became partners with his brother Caesar and here is where this salad became famous. The Hollywood crowd as well as a famous Duchess frequented Caesar's establishment. Even when Julia Child was a youth her folks took her there and Caesar himself made this salad to whom was one day going to become the queen of the foodies world.

Caesar's daughter Rosa in an interview in 1987 said, her father invented the dish in his restaurant in Tijuana on Fourth of July in 1924. A rush had depleted the kitchen's supplies, so with still customers to be fed, Caesar made do with what he had, adding the dramatic flair of the table-side tossing "by the chef".


Carla Cardini, who is the granddaughter of Alex Cardini, works in fine dining around Houston, gives occasional classes on making this classic salad. She will tell you the original name was Aviator's Salad. Alex Cardini, my grandfather, was a pilot for the Italian Air Force during World War I before he moved to Tijuana to join my great-uncle Caesar. Remember, it was Prohibition, and Tijuana was where people went to party. Caesar's Place, my great-uncle's bar and restaurant, was very popular.

After a long night of drinking and missing curfew, a group of Rockwell Field Air Force pilots woke up at Caesar's, and what Alex made for them for breakfast that morning is what we know today as Caesar Salad. That day he called it the Aviator's Salad in honor of his flying buddies, but as the salad gained popularity with visitors from Southern California they said "Let's go to Caesar's and have that salad" and then just Caesar's salad.