Thursday, April 1, 2010

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.

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