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December 17, 1998
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Caesar Salad

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Caesar – December, 1998

Caesar oh Caesar, where hath thou gone thy noble Caesar. Or, to put it in plain English, most Caesar Salads in most restaurants just plain suck. A partial list of some of the most atrocious in town would include Olives, Steiners, Sfuzzi, Spago, Sam's American Grill, Trilussa, Ruth's Chris, Gallagher's, Il' Fornaio. . .the list goes on and on. Most of these are good restaurants with good cooks working in them—well, I won't go that far when speaking of Sfuzzi—but none of them act like they've ever even heard of the right recipe, much less made and tasted a real one. And don't think the sorry state of this salad's sordid affair is confined to Las Vegas eateries. My coast-to-coast research this year from Charleston, South Carolina to Boston to Kansas City, New York and Los Angeles confirms that the Caesar Salad has crossed the martini line. This threshold for generic badness lets a restaurant make its version as ridiculous as possible, and get away with it. No matter how far you stray from the flavors that made the dish popular in the first place, think banana and peppermint schnapps martinis—I would never ask you to taste one—and you'll know what I mean.

A Caesar Salad should taste like romaine lettuce, olive oil, good grated parmesan cheese, an hint (and I mean a hint) of garlic and lemony—yes lemony—from fresh squeezed lemons, with a little worchestshire and anchovy thrown in for tanginess. Good fresh-made croutons are also a must. Without these ingredients in proper balance, what you get is either a gooey, gloppy, garlicky mess or a dried out abomination.

In my yearly quest to unmask and expose this bastardization, I will fax or mail the original recipe to you upon request. Once you taste a real one, I guarantee you'll start screaming FRAUD as much as I do.

All bad Caesars need a culinary brutus to do them in, and I've taken the role of gastronomic assassin to any mountebank who perpetrates this cruel culinary hoax any further. BEWARE THY UNNOBLE CAESAR, I SHALL BE OUT TO DEFROCK AND DESTROY THEE.

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