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The meaning and origin of the expression: Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Caesar Salad'?

The name of a salad typically consisting of cos lettuce, garlic, croutons and anchovies, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Caesar Salad'?

Caesar Salad'Caesar Salad' doesn't really qualify to be on this list of phrases as it isn't a phrase as such, merely the name of a dish. It's worth including however, if only to clarify its origin, which is often misrepresented.

The salad, despite the Mediterranean nature of its ingredients, is nothing to do with Caesar. Well, that's not quite true. I should say that it has nothing to do with any Roman emperor named Julius, Augustus or the like. It is widely reported that the dish was invented in the 1920s by the American restauranteur Caesar Cardini, although this is disputed by some of Cardini's family and others. Cardini's brother Alex is prominent amongst the rival claims. He says he, an ex-pilot of WWI, invented the dish and called it 'Aviator's Salad' and that the 'Caesar Salad' name was taken from 'Caesar's', which was the name of the restaurant it was first served in.

What isn't disputed is that Caesar Cardini, either by virtue of his name or of the name of his restaurant, is the Caesar that the dish is now widely believed to be named for.

The earliest known reference to the foodstuff in print is in the American columnist Dorothy Kilgallen's Voice of Broadway column in The News-Herald, August 1946:

The big food rage in Hollywood - the Caesar salad - will be introduced to New Yorkers by Gilmore's Steak House. It's an intricate concoction that takes ages to prepare and contains (zowie!) lots of garlic, raw or slightly coddled eggs, croutons, romaine, anchovies, parmeasan cheese, olive oil, vinegar and plenty of black pepper.

Here's a list of some other dishes that were named after people:

Battenberg cake – named after one of the Battenberg family. The family gave up their German titles during World War I to become Mountbatten.

Béchamel sauce - the Marquis de Béchamel, steward to Louis XIV.

Beef Stroganoff - the Russian nobleman Count Stroganov.

Beef Wellington - Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

Nacho - Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Anaya, Mexican chef.

Frangipane - the 16th-century Italian Marquis Muzio Frangipani.

Garibaldi biscuits - Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian patriot.

Earl Grey tea - Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister.

Pavlova -Anna Pavlova, Russian ballerina.

Pizza Margherita - Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was presented with this pizza in the colours of the Italian flag.

Peach Melba/Melba toast - Dame Nellie Melba, Australian soprano.

Sandwiches - John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Victoria Sponge - Queen Victoria.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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