Monday, September 19, 2005

A Gripe: I meant to publish a lot of stuff this weekend, but I spent the time hitting the sauce instead. Went to a creole restaurant in town on Friday night. The service was just as slow as you find in the south, but it was worth the wait. The next night, though, at the local chop house, was a disappointment. And here we get to my pet peeve of the day:

Caesar Salad is not, in any universe, made with mayonaisse. If you want to make a nice Romaine salad with a mayo dressing, great; but it is not in any way, shape, or form a Caesar. I'm guessing the knucklehead executive chef with his diploma from Johnson & Wales, or wherever, knows this. They know it in most restaurants, but they continue to make awful salads, drowning in dressing, and call them . . . you know. Is it that nobody likes a real Caesar, or that they are afraid of the -- gasp -- raw egg? Whatever it is, you can be sure that 95% of American restaurants will serve some soggy, mayonaisse-y crap. With anchovy paste.

More: No gripe on the creole place though. It was excellent. (In New England? Go figure.) Good jambalaya, nice 'gator and sausage, and even a respectable pulled pork, even though I've never had decent barbecue in New Orleans. I'll take you there, Flyer. It's your kind of place.


Anonymous said...

umm... I hate to take any wind from your sails, but classically made caesar dressing is mayonnaise based.
and the above is the proper spelling...

Flyer said...

I don't know what the hell classical recipe for Caesar dressing contains MAYO but it predates the dressing that goes by that name (meaning there may have been a similar recipe floating around some Italian backwater on which the Caesar is based, but it's not the same thing).

Here's a recount of the history of the Caesar Salad (

"This wondrous salad, with all its tableside showmanship by waiters, became a sensation in America soon after its invention. To many, including myself, this is the king of salads. It was probably the first 'main course' salad, and topped with chicken or fish is truly a main course.

Created in the 1920s, it has not only outlasted other 'classics' from the period but has grown in popularity ever since. The most likely, and most accepted, story of its creation has Caesar (Cesar) Cardini, a restaurant owner and chef in Tijuana, Mexico (sometimes referred to as an Italian immigrant) preparing it for a group of Hollywood movie stars, after a long weekend party in the 1920s. (Some have pinpointed it to 1924; at least one story says is was a group traveling with the Prince of Wales on his tour of North America). Their departure was delayed by morning rain, supplies at the restaurant were running low after the weekend, and he had to whip up a meal for the group before their return to Hollywood (or it was late one night as some stories go).

Created on the spur of the moment with leftover ingredients. (Although several California restaurants claim to have invented it, few give credit to their stories).

The original contained Romaine (Cos) lettuce, coddled eggs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, croutons, salt and pepper. No anchovies. Almost everyone agrees on this. No one really knows when the anchovies got in, but I feel the salad is a little flat without them. The anchovies should be mashed in as the dressing is made, so even those who dislike anchovies will enjoy this salad. (Dry or Dijon mustard and wine vinegar [red or white] are also frequently added ingredients).

Caesar salad is best when made fresh: freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly mashed garlic cloves, freshly ground black pepper, fresh garlic croutons, and freshly grated cheese. The egg should be coddled, but a raw egg can be used. Our slight variation here at Blue Heaven Restaurant is to use key lime juice instead of lemon juice.

An acceptable dressing can also be made using tofu instead of the raw or coddled egg, if you have concern about salmonella. This should be made in a food processor to completely incorporate the tofu.

In the late 1990's, Caesar salads were made illegal in California, by a new health law banning the sale of any food that used raw eggs as an ingredient. Presumably there was a black market for the contraband salad. The law was soon revised and the situation remedied in 1998."

For the record, I'll take it with anchovies and no MAYO. So I'm half traditional.

Razor said...

And your feet stink and you don't love Jesus!! But Eno is right -- no mayo -- since mayo is just egg and oil (and a little spice), it would be pointless to add mayo to a salad containing raw egg and oil...

Also, I recently discovered that, according to an author who did a boatload of research into the origin of the famed salad (her conclusion: no one really knows, although she's going with the Tijuana story), anchovy is not a traditional ingredient.

Cardini's brother, Alex, introduced anchovy a couple of years later. Caesar said the only anchovy should come from the worcestershire sauce. The brothers were later found dead in a vat of extra virgin olive oil.**


**Okay, I made that up.

Razor said...

Flyer and I cross-posted, but I agree, I like the anchovy bite in my salad.

That and baco bits! I miss baco bits.

Flyer said...

I wonder why we don't have a lot of commenters?

And I too love baco bits. Only classical ones, though, in the easy shake container.

enobarbus said...

The problem here, obviously, is the definition of mayonaisse. Yes, mayo is egg and oil. So our wise commenter believes that ("umm...") the egg and oil in a caesar means "mayonaisse." Nice try, but mayonaisse is an emulsified dressing, whereas the the Caesar dressing is not (or barely) emulsified. I suppose if you wanted to sit there and beat your Caesar dressing for 10 minutes, you could form whipped peaks. Help yourself, if that's what you like. But it ain't Caesar dressing.