A Caesar Salad Crawl Around Manhattan
^ Emotionally, I would say I’m mass-produced, full-fat-dairy-based caesar salad dressing being stored in an industrial sized plastic bag
“A Case for Romaine: A Non-Academic Dissertation by Elizabeth Lawton”
At one point in the not-so-distant past, romaine was king. It was like, just for us, God had created a crispy, watery vessel to shepherd all our favorite heavy cream-based dressings into our lives in a passably guilt-free way. A calorie-less, nutrition-less void to cancel out the carnage caused by living with the mantra that anything with protein added turned into a health food. Oh, the blissful ignorance to be alive at a time when buffalo chicken and shredded cheese were respectable components of a salad. Romaine enjoyed an unchallenged existence as a south beach diet hero, deemed a superfood solely on the basis of its not having any carbs.
Then came the Great Kale Experiment. No food has had such a fall from grace since Hellmann’s mayonnaise than Romaine did with the emergence of these Jurassic greens. Romaine was scoffed at as fast food lettuce and we soon found kale monopolizing our fridges, smoothies, and lives, bragging to us about its health benefits every chance it could.
However, Romaine stayed true to itself even though the public proclaimed its career was over. In the face of all of this, it refused to be juiced, didn’t allow itself to be dried up and made into chips, and didn’t whore itself out to get a book about the 101 things you can do with it. It kept its dignity as a vegetable, unlike the opportunistic cauliflower, soliciting its body with reckless abandonment. Romaine’s patience paid off because there’s one thing these superior greens have failed to execute to the same flawlessness as their shunned sibling: the Caesar salad. While many greens have tried to be the savior debunking the “Caesar salad is inherently bad for you” claim, every slimming attempt worked well in theory but was a sad, deflated balloon in practice.
Covid forced us to embrace our mortality and with that came the return of gluttonous classics. The martini, a molotov cocktail for you consciousness, rose to greatness. Butter found itself revered again after years in purgatory. And Caesar salad had a comeback as impressive as Ben Affleck’s.
To commemorate this culinary version of a royal jubilee, I dragged my friends Frances and Dorothy on a Caesar salad crawl to see which reigned supreme. So pop a Lactaid and enjoy:
Applebee’s in Times Square
This Caesar salad is the Blue Man Group. This Caesar salad is a padlocked public bathroom. This Caesar salad has a Verizon Ringback tone. This Caesar salad quotes “Anchorman” on first dates. This Caesar salad is the Abercrombie Moose. This Caesar salad writes Yelp reviews for arbitrary Starbucks locations. This Caesar salad is a duvet that needs to be put inside a duvet cover. This Caesar salad proudly orders an Appletini. This Caesar salad wears Crocs non-ironically. This Caesar salad runs on Dunkin. This Caesar salad is the trauma of the American experience.
Dimes in the Lower East Side
This Caesar salad thinks that head-to-toe beige is a personality type. This Caesar salad is a compost bin filled with previously unopened Trader Joe’s salad kits. This Caesar salad has four roommates yet exclusively wears Balenciaga sweatshirts. This Caesar salad looks like it was given a Hefe filter. This Caesar salad wants to publicly address that it’s feeling personally attacked by the vibes in a simple work email. This Caesar salad has a mattress without a bed frame. This Caesar salad won’t shut up about natural wines. This Caesar salad wears Crocs ironically. This Caesar salad would like to tell you about its personal rolodex of food allergies.
Monkey Bar in Midtown
This Caesar salad has naturally full lips. This Caesar salad is a hand on your lower back. This Caesar salad speaks fluent French. This Caesar salad asks you meaningful questions then listens. This Caesar salad is that moment during your second martini when you think you’re absolutely fine to order a third. This Caesar salad never mentions that it went to Harvard Business School even though it did. This Caesar salad is the essence of bespoke. This Caesar salad looks so good you wonder if it has an Ozempic hookup. This Caesar salad is Anderson Cooper.
Parm in Nolita
This Caesar salad is the unsettling reality that you watched most of the Austin Powers movies right next to your parents, who were introducing your malleable subconscious to nonstop penis puns and giving you a baseline for presumed sexual normalcy with zero clarification, all of which we are currently working through in therapy. This Caesar salad is the oblivious confidence of a no-name singer parading on social media “big announcement coming soon”. This Caesar salad is the egocentric self-assurance that no one will notice or care that you’re really 5’10” when you claim you’re 6’0″.
Scarr’s Pizza in the Lower East Side
This Caesar salad is that moment in high school when you know all the backroads by heart and don’t need MapQuest print-outs anymore. This Caesar salad is the feeling watching your oldest cousin beat Bowser in Mario N64, the rest of you huddled around a big screen TV on bated breath in a dark basement in 1997. This Caesar salad is the unbridled potential for what riches lay in store for you as you walk into the Scholastic Book Fair with a signed blank check from your parents. This Caesar salad is the crippling euphoria that overcomes you the first time your work crush slacks you.