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Contrary to popular belief, the Caesar Salad does not derive its name from a Roman emperor but owes its creation to Caesar Cardini, an Italian-born chef who emigrated to the United States following World War I. Cardini settled in San Diego but also operated a restaurant across the border in Tijuana, Mexico, capitalizing on the influx of Americans during Prohibition.

The inception of the Caesar Salad is traced back to July 4th, 1924, amidst a bustling day that saw Cardini’s restaurant swamped with patrons. Faced with a dwindling supply of ingredients due to the unexpected surge in customers, Caesar Cardini showcased his ingenuity by assembling a salad from the limited ingredients available. This resourceful creation would go on to become known as the Caesar Salad, a staple in culinary establishments worldwide.

The narrative of the salad’s origin is further enriched by competing anecdotes. Paul Maggiora, a partner of Caesar Cardini, contended that the salad was originally crafted for American airmen from San Diego and was initially dubbed the Aviator’s Salad. Adding to the intrigue, Caesar’s brother Alex claimed the title of inventor, suggesting that the salad was first named Aviator’s Salad before it became associated with Caesar Cardini.

The establishment where the Caesar Salad was born, Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana, remains a testament to Cardini’s culinary legacy. Despite the various stories surrounding the salad’s inception, it is Caesar Cardini who is widely recognized for introducing this iconic dish to the world. The restaurant continues to celebrate its connection to the salad’s storied history, drawing visitors eager to experience the authentic taste of the original Caesar Salad.