Chicken Is A Crime Against Caesar Salad, According To Anthony Bourdain

Chicken Caesar salad may be a standard offering on menus at many restaurants, from a family-style diner to an upscale eatery to a pizzeria; however, that doesn't make it right — at least not in the eyes of the late chef Anthony Bourdain. His rationale was that the chicken was typically cooked too long and that even God would be opposed to the idea, so much so that he wrote in his cookbook "Appetites" that "God does not want you to put chicken on your Caesar."

If a restaurant listed a Caesar salad on its menu, Bourdain contended the reason for this was not so much that the chef was passionate about the dish, but that they knew if chicken were in the name, it'd be much more popular among customers. Just because Bourdain wasn't in favor of adding chicken to a Caesar salad doesn't mean he was opposed to the salad itself. In fact, he created a recipe for the classic dish minus the meat that involved oil-packed anchovies, garlic cloves, romaine lettuce, Dijon mustard, a garnish of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, among other seasonings. 

The original Caesar salad didn't include chicken

In 1924, restaurant owner Cesare Cardini came up short on the ingredients for his insalata mista, so instead, he ended up making a salad that included romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, lemon, bread cubes, eggs, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce — the original Caesar salad. These ingredients were all mixed tableside at his restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico; however, what it didn't contain then or the decades of being served at Caesar's Restaurante-Bar was chicken.

But like so many iconic foods, the Caesar salad has evolved. In addition to many restaurants including chicken with the salad automatically or offering it for an additional cost, even the source of its citrusy flavor has changed. The original salad in Mexico was sometimes made with lime juice, but once the salad began to be replicated in the United States, it was more commonly made with lemon juice. When and who decided to start serving Caesar salad with chicken is not clearly documented, but if it were up to Bourdain, the two would never be served together again.