Centennial Celebration: Caesar Salad Turns 100 in Tijuana, Mexico! Discover the Surprising Origins and Timeless Appeal

Tijuana, Mexico – In celebration of its 100th birthday, the iconic Caesar salad is still winning over taste buds worldwide. Legend has it that Italian immigrant Caesar Cardini concocted this beloved dish in 1924 at his eatery, Caesar’s Place, in Tijuana, Mexico. Amid a flurry of California visitors seeking refuge from Prohibition, Cardini whipped up the now-famous salad using a simple mix of Romaine lettuce, garlic-infused oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, eggs, and Parmesan cheese.

This month, Tijuana plans to honor the centennial milestone of the Caesar salad with a three-day gastronomic affair and the inauguration of a statue paying tribute to Cardini. Today, at the elegant restaurant Caesar’s, founded by Cardini shortly after creating the famous salad, up to 300 Caesar salads are still expertly prepared each day.

What sets the Caesar salad apart from its early 20th-century menu companions – like bizarre creations such as creamed liver loaf and aspic – is its enduring popularity. Technomic reports that approximately 35% of restaurants in the United States feature Caesar salad on their menu, while Nielsen IQ indicates that around $150 million worth of Caesar salad dressing has been sold across the country within a year.

Beth Forrest, a professor at the Culinary Institute of America, sheds light on the evolution of the Caesar salad, noting that it did not gain widespread recognition until the 1951 edition of “Joy of Cooking.” Throughout the following decades, serving Caesar salad tableside became a culinary spectacle, adding an element of sophistication to the dish.

Experts praise the Caesar salad for its appeal to the Western palate, with its tantalizing combination of crispy lettuce leaves and creamy dressing. Notably, the salad’s richness stems from egg yolks and Parmesan cheese, which contribute to its signature umami flavor.

Variations of Caesar salad abound, with contemporary chefs incorporating unique twists such as adding chicken, bacon, or Brussels sprouts. Despite the multitude of adaptations, many chefs, like Andrew Ashmore of Beatrix in Chicago, prefer to stay true to the classic recipe, emphasizing the irresistible combination of flavors and textures that have made the Caesar salad an enduring favorite.

The origins of the Caesar salad are shrouded in a bit of mystery, with claims that the recipe may have been the creation of Livio Santini’s mother or even Cardini’s own brother, Alex. Despite the debate, the enduring popularity of the salad speaks to its timeless appeal and adaptability in the culinary world.

As Tijuana’s culinary scene flourished post-Prohibition, Caesar Cardini relocated to Los Angeles in 1935, where his family continued to produce and distribute the iconic Caesar dressing. Today, the legacy of Caesar Cardini lives on through T. Marzetti, a renowned maker of dressings and dips, which acquired Cardini Foods in 1996.