Caesar salad isn’t named after Julius Caesar.

  • Bowl of caesar salad
Bowl of caesar salad
Credit: Joshua Resnick/ Shutterstock

It would be easy to assume that the Caesar salad got its moniker from the famous Roman statesman of the same name, but the classic appetizer actually has no connection to Julius Caesar. Instead, it was named after an Italian American restaurateur and chef named Caesar Cardini. Cardini opened his first restaurant in California in 1919, one year before the onset of Prohibition. In the 1920s, he expanded across the border so that he could legally serve alcohol, opening a new eatery called Caesar’s in Tijuana, Mexico. It was at this restaurant that the recipe for Caesar salad was invented, and while the exact origin of the dish is debated, what’s certain is that Cardini claimed responsibility and marketed the salad under his name. 

According to Cardini’s daughter, Rosa, the original Caesar salad was improvised on a busy Fourth of July weekend in 1924. After running out of other ingredients, the story goes, Cardini gathered anything available — romaine lettuce, olive oil, egg, croutons, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan — and instructed his chefs to mix it together tableside for added showmanship. Others say the salad was created by Cardini’s brother, Alessandro, in an effort to impress a group of airmen dining at Caesar’s. And some argue that it was actually a restaurant employee named Livio Santini who came up with the salad, basing it on his mother’s recipe. Whatever the truth may be, Cardini moved back to Los Angeles and opened a shop in 1938 to sell bottles of his popular namesake salad dressing

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