Saturday, June 6, 2009

Caesar Salad

Saturated acid colour. Sorry. Evening apartment light and lettuce = yellow.

Caesar salad is not really salad. It is food. Salad is light and good for self righteousness and comes with something else righteous in a different way, like...steak? Or as a precursor to a Serious Meal. Don't get me wrong: I worship at the altar of salad.

I knew someone in Florida whose idea of salad was buying pre-made Caesar salad from the supermarket, complete with sachet of white goop called dressing. I stayed for a week and when I got home to Brooklyn ate arugula for days. And thanked God that I wasn't born in or sentenced to Orlando.

The first real Caesar I ate was under the plane tree in my mother's garden, during a legendary lunch, and for some reason making it seemed a performance. I made it to the letter, and we found it strong and surprising. My mother creates the best and most beautiful, and the most deceptively simple salads I have ever eaten. I judge restaurants by salads. The dressing, the leaves. Texture. The salad is like a cross section of a kitchen under a microscope. It tells you everything. You see respect in a salad. Or not. If not, you may as well leave.

So. What I like to do with a Caesar is to boil an egg softly and scoop out its still runny yolk. What you do with the white is up to you. The yolk I beat with 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar, 1 anchovy fillet, a crushed garlic clove, some sugar, pepper, rarely salt, and olive oil. I put this into a bowl, toss in my chunked Romaine or other sturdy lettuce, and toss with my hands - grate some parmesan over the top and then toss again. Lots of fingers to lick.

I bastardize it by cooking some thinly sliced pancetta and frying some chunks of peasant-type sourdough bread in the fat. Add. Eat.

To keep track of inconsistency (or evolution, or mood), click here to see one I made last year.


  1. I judge restaurants by their Creme Brulee!

  2. As I sit here munching on carrots, your pancetta looks divine and


    !?#$!&! I just read knithound's comment. Now that's more like it! I'm not alone! ;-)

  3. Vincent Price would have worshipped at your altar. (There was more to him than scary movies.)

  4. I was just dreaming of freshly made Caesar salad today, looking at the spring greens coming up and wishing I'd thought to plant some Romaine especially for it.

  5. leafy greens are like a blank canvas...

  6. Lisa and Beence - thing is, you should then eat dessert first. Hm...Remember the Leisure Island Creme brulee? Harbour House's is very good...yum.

    Garlic for vampires, Dinahmow? OK - I'm heading to Google now.

    m.heart - your lettuces look delectable. I was a deer in my previous life.I think I was made into pie.

    Karen - yes, true. Like chicken. And what terrible things can be done to them in the name of art.


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