How The Original Caesar Salad Differed From Today's Classic

Caesar salad is a classic dish. There are many variations out there, but traditionally the salad is made up of romaine lettuce, fresh parmesan cheese, croutons, and the signature dressing. According to HuffPost, Caesar salad has been around since the mid-1920s. While there are several stories floating around about its creation, it's believed the its origins can be traced back to the restaurant of Italian chef Caesar Cardini, which was located in Tijuana, Mexico. The salad became popular with Americans who crossed the border to drink alcohol and gamble during prohibition (per BBC Travel).

The salad's original recipe is slightly different than the dish that we know and love today. It was missing one ingredient that has come to be associated with Caesar salad. In most recipes, its signature dressing includes anchovies. Per Bon Appètit, the salad wouldn't be as tasty without the "umami" kick from the little fish. But the original salad got that kick from another ingredient.

Hold the anchovies

While it's still up for debate who invented the salad (whether it was Caesar Cardini, his brother, or another employee at Cardini's restaurant), Food and Wine states that Caesar's daughter claims that her father came up with the recipe on the fly one night when his supplies were running short. The signature salad was born from his leftover lettuce, olive oil, raw eggs, parmesan cheese, croutons, and Worcestershire sauce. But there were no anchovies in sight.

A San Diego Tribune story states that in a 1987 interview with Caesar's daughter, she said that her father didn't use anchovies. Instead, he used Worcestershire sauce, which does contain anchovies, in order to not "overwhelm" the salad. Even though most modern Caesar salad recipes include anchovies, Bon Appètit does explain that if you can't stand the thought of using them to make the dressing, Worcestershire sauce can be used to replace that "umami" flavor. It turns out, that just might be closer to the original version of the original Caesar salad.