Beware the Ides of March Meal: Caesar or Brutus Salad, Cleopatra's Dulcis Coccora, Caesar Cocktail

by DerdriuMarriner

Beware the Ides of March meal calls for food and beverage that have the same names as three people touched by the prophecy for March 15, 44 BC.

Beware the Ides of March meal spotlights, via food and beverage, three historical figures who were affected by the accurate, fatal prophecy for the Ides of March, March 15, 44 BC. Gaius Julius Caesar (July 12, 100 BC-March 15, 44 BC) was assassinated on that day. His friend, Marcus Junius Brutus (85 BC-Oct. 23, 42 BC), numbered among his assassins. After Caesar's assassination, his Hellenized Egyptian lover, Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 BC-Aug. 10, 30 BC), began an eventually fatal relationship with her murdered lover's friend, Marcus Antonius (Jan. 14, 83 BC-Aug. 1, 30 BC).

The phrase "Beware the Ides of March" originated in a dire prophecy given prior to March 15, 44 BC, by a soothsayer to Julius Caesar. The soothsayer was unnamed in Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly known as Parallel Lives, by Greek biographer Plutarch (46 BCE-ca. 122 BCE). The soothsayer was identified as Spurinna in De Vita Caesarum (About the Lives of the Caesars), commonly known as The Twelve Caesars, by Roman historian Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus; ca. AD 69-after AD 122).

Caesar Salad original ingredients:

minced garlic in olive oil, raw eggs, croutons, Parmesan cheese and romaine leaves.
Julia Child verified original recipe with Rosa Maria Cardini, Caesar's daughter.
Julia Child verified original recipe with Rosa Maria Cardini, Caesar's daughter.

Julia Child and Caesar Salad

 

American cookbook author and television personality Julia Carolyn McWilliams Child (Aug. 15, 1912 -Aug. 13, 2004) mused about Caesar Salad (pages 431-434) in her fourth cookbook, From Julia Child's Kitchen, published in 1975. She recalled traveling in 1925 or 1926 (aged 13 or 14) with her parents, John McWilliams, Jr. (Oct. 26, 1880–May 20, 1962) and Julia Carolyn ("Caro") Weston (July 19, 1877–July 21, 1937), to have lunch at Caesar's restaurant. Caesar's was located south of San Diego, California, across the United States-Mexico border, in Tijuana, the largest city in Mexico's northernmost and westernmost state, Baja California.

Tijuana was thriving from "droves" of visiting, Prohibition-era (Jan. 17, 1920-Dec. 5, 1933) Los Angelenos attracted to the city's readily available alcohol, food, gambling and music. A popular destination was Italian immigrant restauranteur Cesare "Caesar" Cardini's (Feb. 24, 1896-Nov. 3, 1956) restaurant and his creation, Caesar Salad.

Julia Child remembered that her parents "of course" ordered the salad, which Caesar had created in 1924. The salad was served in the usual way. Caesar appeared at their table with a big cart for tableside preparation of romaine leaves, garlic-flavored croutons, grated Parmesan cheese and two one-minute coddled eggs in a large wooden bowl.

Almost five decades later, Caesar Salad was selected as one of the recipes for Julia Child's American television cooking show, The French Chef (Feb. 2, 1963, to Jan. 14, 1973). Julia's research uncovered a confusing multiplicity of purported Caesar Salad recipes. Ruth Lockwood, the series producer, located Rosa Maria Cardini (March 23, 1928-Sept. 3, 2003), Caesar's daughter.

Rosa explained that her father's original recipe called for hearts of romaine as whole leaves, served on a chilled plate. He later abandoned his original expectation of finger eating, with each dressing-soaked leaf held by its stem and eaten individually, and substituted bite-sized, torn leaves.

Contrary to a popular version of the salad, Caesar did not include anchovy fillets in his creation. Rather, his salad's anchovy flavor came from Worcestershire sauce, which, as a fermented condiment, contains anchovy specks.

Also, Rosa pointed out that her father had a special way of combining, or tossing, his creation. Caesar used a rolling, wave-like movement to scoop and turn over the ingredients.

Julia presented Caesar Salad on "Kids Want to Cook," which aired Dec. 10, 1972, as the 11th of 13 episodes in The French Chef's 10th season (1972-1973). WGBH, the Boston, Massachusetts-based public television station, produced and broadcast The French Chef.

 Food and travel columnist John F. Mariani (born Aug. 27, 1945) included the "original" recipe in the "caesar salad" entry (page 67) of his classic reference on American gastronomy, The Dictionary of American Food and Drink (1983). Cardini patented his dressing as Cardini's Original Caesar's Dressing Mix in 1948.

 

Caesar Cardini's Original Caesar Dressing:

Caesar Cardini's Original Caesar Dressing is Amazon's Choice, highlighted as a highly rated and well priced product. This product is eligible for Amazon Smile donation.
Cardini Original Caesar Dressing, Bottles, 20 Fl Oz (Pack of 2)

 

My family's basic recipe for Caesar Salad is similar to Julia Child's presentation of Rosa Cardini's Caesar Salad in her fourth cookbook, From Julia Child's Kitchen (1975). As with Julia's Rosa-inspired recipe and John Mariani's reference book entry, my family's Caesar Salad coddles, i.e., slightly boils, the eggs to achieve the texture of raw eggs while avoiding raw egg consumption's potential danger.

Oftentimes, we favor our customized version, which reflects preferences with respect to varieties of romaine, or cos, lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia), croutons and oil. Also, because the intensity of garlic (Allium sativum) distracts from the seasoned croutons that we prefer, we frequently eliminate the spice- and herb-masquerading vegetable from our ingredient list.

My family's recipe always calls for the original Caesar Salad's whole leaves or hearts of romaine. Romaine has a crunchiness that is enjoyably noticeable with whole leaves. If desired, however, leaves may be torn into bite-sized pieces.

 

In her travels across India, my sister, not surprisingly, encountered Caesar Salad, which enjoys an international appreciation. She discovered that Caesar Cardini's original intention of his salad as finger food enhanced her immediate enjoyment of the dish. The tactile aspect of holding each leaf at stem's end complemented the particular sensations of hearing (via leaf crunchiness), smell and taste that were present in eating with fingers and were absent in eating with a fork.

 

My Family's Recipe for Caesar Salad


Prep time 5 min  -  Total time 15 min
Ingredients for 4 servings
Serves 4 to 6, according to portion size.
Recipe  4.9/5 Stars (15 Votes)

Ingredients

 

2 eggs

2 heads of organic romaine lettuce; Julia Child recommends 6 to 8 leaves per person;

   Or: bag of organic romaine hearts

   Or: 2 heads of organic Little Gem lettuce (cross between romaine and butter lettuces)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

   Or: substitute safflower oil or sunflower oil

peppercorns, freshly ground

1 lemon, for squeezing over lettuce leaves

   Or: 3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 pound Parmesan cheese for fresh grating or shredding (about 1 to 1/4 cups)

2 cups toasted, garlic-seasoned croutons

   Or: 2 boxes (5.3 ounces each) of Lesley Stowe raincoast crisps®, broken in half;

         select one of at least eight blends or mix and match;

         my current favorite is rosemary raisin pecan

 

Preparation

 

1. Coddle eggs: bring water to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Gently lower eggs via large serving spoon into center of saucepan, making sure that eggs are completely covered by water.

Allow eggs to boil for one minute.

Remove pan from burner. Carefully transfer eggs for cooling, for one minute, in bowl of ice water. Set aside.

2. Place romaine leaves in large serving bowl. Drizzle with half of oil, i.e., 1/4 cup. Gently blend oil into leaves with rolling motion of salad utensils.

3. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and rest of oil, i.e., 1/4 cup. Lightly toss.

4. Squeeze lemon over leaves. Sprinkle Worcestershire sauce. Lightly toss.

5. Break eggs over salad. Lightly toss.

6. Add cheese. Lightly toss.

7. Top with croutons (or Lesley Stowe raincoast crisps®). Lightly blend.

 

At serving time, transfer romaine, leaf by leaf, to dinner plates.

Makes 4 to 6 servings, according to portion size.

 

Caesar's Restaurant:

Caesar's Restaurant is housed in Hotel Caesar's; address: Av. Revolución 1079, Zona Centro, 22350 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico; telephone: +52 664 685 1606
Caesar Salad at Caesar's Restaurant
Caesar Salad at Caesar's Restaurant

Beware the Ides of March meal:

Little Caesars® Pizza; Caesar's Salad or Brutus Salad; Cleopatra's Dulcis Coccora (Sweet Honey Balls); Caesar Cocktail

 

Beware the Ides of March meal consists of food and beverage with the names of three historical figures whose lives were affected by the fateful prophecy for March 15, 44 BC, issued by Spurinna the soothsayer. Julius Caesar was assassinated; his friend Brutus participated in the assassination; Caesar's lover, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, fatefully replaced her dead lover with her dead lover's friend, Marcus Antonius.

A Beware the Ides of March meal could begin with a pizza from Little Caesars®. The husband-and-wife team of Michael Ilitch Sr. (July 20, 1929-Feb. 10, 2017) and Marian Bayoff Ilitch (born January 7, 1933) founded the pizza chain May 8, 1959, with the original store located in a strip mall in Garden City, Wayne County, southeastern Michigan. The name of Little Caesar represents Marian's nickname for her husband, according to writer Rebecca Henderson's Sept. 5, 2018, Rewind & Capture post.

A Beware the Ides of March meal calls for Caesar Salad. As with Little Caesars®, Caesar Salad is not a Julius Caesar's namesake, but, rather, honors its creator, Italian-naturalized American restauranteur Cesare "Caesar" Cardini.

Alternatively, a Beware the Ides of March meal could feature a Brutus Salad. An online search reveals a number of versions of the Brutus Salad, including a recipe featuring anchovies and boneless shell steaks by American cookbook author and television personality Rachael Ray (born August 25, 1968).

Two recipes specifically link the salad's name with Julius Caesar's murderous friend Brutus. American chef John Armand Mitzewich (born July 11, 1963), known as Chef John, explains in the June 20, 2017, post, "The Brutus Salad -- Watch Your Back, Caesar!," of his Food Wishes blog that his recipe takes inspiration from a salad that he discovered at Willis's Seafood in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, Northern California. The restaurant's unnamed salad was described as  “Little Gem Salad, Dijon Vinaigrette, Fuji Apples, Aged White Cheddar, Fresh Herbs, Fried Pecans.”

Finding the salad so amazing that he jokingly assessed it as replacing Caesar Salad as "America's favorite tossed salad," he then ensuingly, with the help of "a few beers," contrived the obvious name of Brutus Salad. His recipe calls for a salad of cut or torn romaine hearts, extra-sharp aged cheddar, apple, tarragon leaves, dill springs and toasted pecan halves. His "sharp and acidic" dressing consists of French Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, vegetable oil, Worcestershire sauce and freshly ground black pepper.

English chef, broadcaster and writer Allegra McEvedy (born Nov. 23, 1970) offered a "quick, healthy take on the caesar salad" in her Jan. 17, 2011, Guardian article, "Brutus Salad Recipe." She described the Brutus as equally flavorful as "his old boss" but with a less bothersome dressing. McEvedy's Brutus Salad incorporates a salad of garlic-seasoned croutons, ribboned cos (American: romaine) or Little Gem leaves and pomegranate with a dressing of lardons (fatty bacon bits), feta cheese, Greek yogurt, olive oil, garlic cloves, lemon and black pepper.

A Beware the Ides of March meal offers a dessert of Cleopatra's Dulcis Coccora (Sweet Honey Balls). Susanna Cutini (born 1962), chef and researcher of gastronomic traditions and historical recipes, identified the ancient Egyptian sweet as favored by Queen Cleopatra in her April 18, 2012, post, "Cleopatra's Dulcis Coccora: Sweet Honey Balls Recipe," on S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna's magazine for foodies, Fine Dining Lovers (FDL). The recipe shapes balls from flour, water, dried figs, walnuts and honey and decorates them with pomegranate seeds or fruit slices. Cutini explained pomegranate seeds or fruit slices as substitutes for coccora, which, in antiquity, designated seeds of Mediterranean plants that were added to sweets.

A Beware the Ides of March meal ends with a Caesar cocktail. During his 35-year career with the Westin Hotel chain, Walter Silin Chell (April 26, 1925-March 30, 1997) numbered among his accomplishments the creation of a cocktail in 1969 that celebrated a 50-year milestone, in 2019, as a Canadian cultural icon, according to the April 19, 2019, Toronto Sun article, " The Caesar: Celebrating a Canadian Cultural Icon's Milestone Birthday," by SUN Media chain's National Lifestyle and Food editor, Rita DeMontis. The Montenegro-born, Italian immigrant to Canada first named his creation Caesar in recognition of his Italian ancestry, according to his granddaughter Sheena Jay Parker in a May 13, 2009, CBC News article, "Calgary's Bloody Caesar Hailed as Nation's Favourite Cocktail." Chell embellished his creation's name with the adjective "bloody" in response to a British customer's approving the cocktail as "a bloody good Caesar." The Bloody Caesar calls for clam juice, tomato juice, vodka, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce over ice. The cocktail's attractive presentation entails a cold glass, rimmed with celery salt and decorated with a celery stalk and a lime slice.

Chell did not explain whether his cocktail's name specifically designated Julius Caesar. Or, he could have intended the name as generally encompassing generations with the hereditary cognomen (third of the conventional tria nomina, "three names," in ancient Rome) of Caesar.

Thus ends a Beware the Ides of March meal. The meal's food and beverage, however, are not restricted to consumption on March 15.

 

The Ides of March:

1883 oil on canvas by Sir Edward John Poynter (March 20, 1836-July 26, 1919). Painting depicts Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act II scene 2, in which Caesar's wife Calpurnia begs him to stay home March 15, 44, because of her nightmare of his murder.
Manchester Art Gallery collection, Lancashire, north west England
Manchester Art Gallery collection, Lancashire, north west England

The Assassination of Julius Caesar

 

A number of omens appeared prior to Caesar's assassination. The most imminent omen confronting Caesar was the nightmare of his murder that awakened his wife Calpurnia Piso (ca. 70/76-?) on March 15. Caesar temporarily acquiesced to Calpurnia's subsequent plea for him to stay at home. He sent Marcus Antonius, in his stead, to adjourn the Senate.

Nevertheless, Caesar's enemies were resolute against delay or failure in their murderous scheme. Marcus Junius Brutus (85 BC-Oct. 23, 42 BC), Gaius Cassius Longinus (Oct. 3, ca. 86 BC-Oct. 3, 42 BC) and Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus (April 27, 81 BC-September 43 BC) led the plot to assassinate Caesar. Journeying to Caesar's house, instigator Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus (April 27, 81 BC-September 43 BC) convinced Caesar to ignore his wife's nightmare and other omens and to convene the Senate.

On the way to the Senate, Caesar passed Spurinna. Plutarch reported that Caesar merrily greeted the soothsayer: "The Ides of March be come."

Spurinna replied softly but ominously: "So be they, but yet are they not passed" (Sir Thomas North translation [1579], page 64).

The Senate assembled in the Theatre of Pompey (Latin: Theatrum Pompeii). Suetonius related that the conspirators ". . . gathered about him as if to pay their respects . . ." (Joseph Cavorse translation [1931], page 46). Standing behind Caesar, Publius Servilius Casca Longus (84 BC-ca. 42 BC) made the first slash, but ". . . the wounde was not great, nor mortall . . ." (Plutarch, page 67). Caesar was ". . . beset on every side by drawn daggers . . ." (Suetonius, page 46), as all the conspirators had agreed that ". . . every man should geve him a wound, bicause all their partes should be in this murther . . ." (Plutarch, page 68).

Plutarch stated that Caesar defended himself until Marcus Brutus, whom Caesar had considered as his friend, appeared before him. Upon seeing Brutus ". . . with his sworde drawen in his hande, then he pulled his gowne over his heade, and made no more resistaunce . . ." (page 68).

Did Caesar dramatically sputter, "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar," as depicted by Elizabethan playwright William Shakespeare (bapt. April 26, 1564-April 23, 1616) in The Tragedie of Julius Caesar (Act III, scene 1)? According to Plutarch, the only words uttered by Caesar during the assassination were directed at first striker Casca. After receiving Casca's glancing cut on his neck, Caesar turned around and firmly grasped Casca's sword while saying: "O vile traitor Casca, what doest thou?" (page 67).

Suetonius reported that Caesar received his 23 stab wounds ". . . uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke . . ." (page 46). Yet, he added that ". . . some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, 'You too, my child?'" (pages 46-47).

Suetonius also noted that Antistius the physician expressed the opinion that ". . . of so many wounds none would have proved mortal except the second one in the breast" (page 47). General and forensic psychiatrist Harold J. Bursztajn referenced Antistius's postmortem examination as ". . . perhaps history's first recorded application of medical knowledge to a homicide investigation" (page 21) in his article, "Dead Men Talking," in the Spring 2005 issue of the Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin.

 

Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 1, the Assassination:

ca. 1888 oil on canvas by British historical, portrait and war painter William Holmes Sullivan (1836-1908); Second of three in series based on William Shakespeare's play.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre collection, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, west-central England.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre collection, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, west-central England.

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to talented photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet.

 

Sources Consulted

 

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Strauss, Barry. The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination. New York NY: Simon & Schuster, March 3, 2015.

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Talmon, Noelle. "The Caesar Salad Is Not an American Creation." Ripley's Believe It or Not! > Weird Food > Weird News. Dec. 6, 2018.

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Witchel, Alex. "Great Caesar's Ghost! Where's My Anchovy?" The New York Times > Dining. March 7, 2001.

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From Julia Child's Kitchen by Julia Child:

"Musings upon Caesar and his salad" (pages 431-434) recalls Julia's teen-aged visit to Caesar's restaurant to taste his recently created salad sensation and provides Rosa Cardini's recipe for her father's salad.
From Julia Child's Kitchen

The Way to Cook by Julia Child, with Bonus DVD set (six-part series on 2 DVDs):

"Caesar Salad: Romaine with egg dressing, Parmesan, and garlic croutons" appears on pages 352-353.
The Way to Cook By Julia Child with *Bonus DVD Set* - The Way to Co...

Et tu, Brute?

Classic fit, twill-taped neck sweatshirt in Unisex-Adult sizes; colors: black, dark heather, heather grey, navy, royal blue.
Et tu, Brute? - Julius Caesar Meme Science Historical Quotes Sweats...

Et tu, Brute?

Lightweight, classic fit tee shirt in men's, women's and youth sizes; colors: asphalt, baby blue, black, dark heather, navy, olive, orange, purple, royal blue, white.
Et tu, Brute? - Julius Caesar Meme Science Historical Quotes T-Shirt

The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination by Barry Strauss

Ever since March 15, 1944 BCE, the Ides of March has an irrevocable association with the over-kill assassination of Julius Caesar.
The Death of Caesar: The Story of History's Most Famous Assassination

Tacuinum de' Eccellentissimi by Alex Revelli Sorini and Susanna Cutini:

Cleopatra's favorite recipe is identified as Dulcis Coccora (Sweet Honey Balls).
Tacuinum de' eccellentissimi. Gusti e ricette di personaggi illustr...

The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore by Harold McGee:

McGee's investigation of culinary concerns includes the remedy for recipes with potential food safety issues, such as Caesar Salad Dressing's raw egg.
The Curious Cook: More Kitchen Science and Lore

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee

An entire chapter (almost 50 pages) is devoted to Eggs. Eight major topics include Egg Biology and Chemistry; Egg Quality, Handling, and Safety; The Chemistry of Egg Cooking; Egg Foams: Cooking With the Wrist; Pickled and Preserved Eggs.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning
Updated: 04/02/2021, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/20/2021

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for pointing out this typo. The E key was malfunctioning and apparently did not save; the dates are BCE, not BC.
I appreciate your offering for your comment to be deleted, but I would like to save it because careful readers, such as yourself, make a difference and this is my only way of thanking you.

blackspanielgallery on 03/14/2021

The earlier date for Plutarch is later than the death date, I suspect a transposition. You may delete this comment after reading it.

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