Uncle George and Caesar Salad

Uncle George loved breaking rules. He broke laws and norms gleefully and drove his neighbors to madness in the process.

It could have been the summer he covered his front lawn in horse poop so he could plant the world’s biggest pole beans. It might have been the next summer when he did it again to plant blueberries for his blueberry wine or it might have been the colorful blue tie-dyed look of the blossoms of blueberry wine on everyone’s kitchens and dining room walls when all of those bottles of blueberry wine blew up.

It might have been the twenty foot satellite dish and eighty foot radio tower George built so he could talk to the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis.

The whole time George was spreading poop and consternation he wore big rubber boots like his Nova Scotian fishing buddies did. He was pretty light on his feet considering the boots and their weight and the way they kind of “kalumped” when he danced around.

The second year that the Beach Bistro was open Uncle George decided he should come down and help me out – make sure I wasn’t “screwing up”. He worked in the Bistro pantry helping with salads and desserts.  He was wearing his rubber boots. That got me worried about horse poop and such but he assured they were a new pair. The kalumping was good because it helped keep an ear on where he was and what he was doing and how many times a night he slipped into the bar for a little rum.

On New Year’s Eve 1987, George made 121 Caesar salads.

He was ninety one.

I love that old man and I miss him dearly, and I think of him every time I write up this recipe.

Caesar salad… for two…the original recipe as it moved from Caesar Cardino’s restaurant in Tijuana Mexico directly to Arnaud’s in New Orleans in the twenties where I learned it.

First….

2anchovies

a clove of garlic

a tbsp. of Dijon mustard

grate in a healthy pinch of black pepper

Use the pepper and mustard as a kind of grinding medium and work the anchovy and garlic and mustard-pepper paste against the bowl with two forks until it has a fine, smooth consistency. At the restaurants we actually accomplish this with a culinary – untraditional but faster and effective.

Next….

Whip in just the yolk of an egg and then gradually trickle in olive oil while whipping up into a mayonnaise. Vary the amount of oil according to the intensity of the flavor you desire. Generally about a third to a half of a cup will work. If you use too much or add it too quickly it will break and you have to screw around with adding another yolk.

Finish your Caesar mayo with a ribbon of Worcestershire, juice from a half lemon and about an ounce of red wine vinegar. Stir and toss with a small head of romaine (stripped and cleaned and dried) torn – not cut – into thirds or quarters.  Add grated or shaved Parmesan (drier and sharper the better) and croutons. Canadians say it also has bacon, often quite fervently, but what would they know about a recipe that was started in Mexico.

A good Caesar has a rich and creamy consistency and should be eaten with a knife and fork, and a chunk of garlic bread.  Uncle George made over a hundred of them. Use this recipe and I imagine him watching with a wry smile. The kerplunking sound is his rubber boots.

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Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy

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