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  • Writer's pictureDon Hazelwood

The Case for Anchovies ...

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

While the Anchovy may not be to everyone's taste, the diminutive blue tinged silver-ish colored fish tastes very good to others. And they are disappearing from Caesar salads served in our local Italian eateries around the country ... just another sign of the decline of Western civilization. Anchovies are a type of oily, small, saltwater fish that are often used as a flavoring ingredient due to it's healthy umami qualities. While some people enjoy the strong, salty flavor of anchovies, others may find it unappealing. Some people may also be put off by the appearance of anchovies, as they are often sold whole or as fillets and can have a distinct, strong odor. Overall, the love or hate of anchovies is largely a matter of personal preference. Anchovies entry into pop cultured was inked on July 4th, 1923 by an Italian chef who owned a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, Caesar Cardini. According to legend, Cardini created the dish when his restaurant was particularly busy and he needed to come up with something tasty using ingredients he had on hand. Combining robust romaine lettuce, crunchy croutons, a pungent Parmesan cheese, and a delicious dressing made of lemon juice, egg, garlic, tasty anchovies, and a splash or three of Worcestershire, Cardini created what is now known as a Caesar's salad. The salad quickly became a hit with his customers and eventually gained popularity in the United States and is now enjoyed around the world. There is no definitive answer as to why the Caesar salad has become a staple from coast-to-coast in our local hometown Italian restaurants. Surly the unique and flavorful combination of ingredients paired with the low cost high ROI of the salad contributed to it becoming the ubiquitous salad it is today. Can you call your establishment and Italian restaurant if you do not have a Caesar's salad option for your entrés? Today's Caesar has to be a weak imitation of the decades past robust classic. Not having been in Tijuana in the roaring twenties to sample the original, I am putting forward but a simple guess. However, in my humble professional opinion, years of simplifying, stretching shelf life, and increasing the business margin of the salad has downsized it to a few crisp cold green iceberg leaves, a couple of stale baked bread, and a shaving or two of Parmesan cheese with a watery concoction barely resembling the classic Cardini threw together years before. I am writing this with you, the restauranteurs, in mind to say, you owe us, the anchovy loving public, at least the option of having some type of anchovy product in our Caesar's salad. We can even compromise here by having something tangible, resembling an anchovy as an option for those craving the unique umami flavor in their salad (and on pizza's too ... well and in J. Kenji López Alt's meatloaf recipe as well) allowing us with superior tastes to revel in Cardin's original intention instead of today's watered down version of the classic.

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