How I Learned To Make Caesar Salad
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One of the first foods that I learned to cook was Caesar salad. When I was about seven years old, my father told me that he needed some help in the kitchen. I set down the novel that I was reading and silently followed him out of my bedroom.

When I got to the kitchen, I could see a wooden salad bowl that is more than three feet across. I could also see a number of bottles, garlic, olive oil and anchovy paste. My father told me that the bowl needed to be seasoned before the other ingredients were added. He handed me the clove of garlic. I peeled it and handed it back. He put it in the garlic press and smashed it in the bowl, opening the press to shake the garlic that remained into the bowl.

Next he put in the olive oil, two swirls around the bottom of the bowl. Then he turned to me and said that after the oil, anything else could follow. I picked up the tobacco and was told to add about five drops. Next he picked up the red wine vinegar and told me that it came out of the bottle fast, so it was important to be careful. I watched as he made two swirls around the bowl, just like the olive oil but done at a much faster rate with a lighter hand.

My father gave me the Worcestershire sauce and said to do three dashes. Afterwards, he picked up the spoon and got about a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Then I was told to take the lemon half and to “give it a good squeeze” which I did. The final dressing ingredient was anchovy paste. I watched my father squirt about half a teaspoon into the spoon before dumping it into the bowl. He gave me the spoon and told me to stir everything together well.

Next, the spoon got traded for the wooden salad fork and spoon set. After my father carefully opened the paper towel that had chopped Romaine inside, he told me that it was time for me to toss the salad. Then we added some croutons—at that time my family ate ones that came packaged from the grocery store—and some Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

For a number of years, I was content to make the salad with my father to help with the preparation of dinner. It was one of the few foods that everyone in my family was happy to eat!


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