Monthly Archives: September 2022

Two new books, and the (grrr) date Caesar

Here at Nestlings Press headquarters, where every hour of the day and night ferocious semis pull in and out of our seventeen loading docks groaning under the weight of new publications, we are bracing for two new volumes.

The first, The Sambourne Touch, collects some of the best drawings by Linley Sambourne, Punch cartoonist and book illustrator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He could draw anything, and was praised by his peers – including John Tenniel (fellow Punch cartoonist and, of course, illustrator of Alice in Wonderland) – for his wizardry.

The other, Heresy at Lear’s End, rewrites the fifth line of almost every Edward Lear limerick to provide a different rhyme from the first line – because Lear, for whatever reason, almost always used the same word at the end of the first and fifth line. I tried to get in touch with Lear to ask why, but was told that he had been dead for more than a century, as if that were an excuse. The drawings, which were not created to accompany Lear’s verses (Lear illustrated his own works) but which come remarkably close, are by the great nineteenth-century artist J.J. Grandville, who died a year after Lear’s limericks were first published.

While we’re waiting for both books, let me share a thought about date Caesars. No, they aren’t Caesar salads with dates in them. They are Caesar salads obviously designed for couples on a date, who want the creaminess of a Caesar without the garlic. (If both parties eat garlic, they are evenly matched. If only one has garlic, it’s game over for the date.)

I love garlic in my Caesars, and have been regularly disappointed when what is advertised on the menu as a Caesar turns out to be a date Caesar. I have learned to ask whether the salad has garlic, and, if not, whether it can be jump-started with garlic just for me.

It is possible that the chefs hate me for this. It is also possible that they break out in smiles at the thought that someone desires his Caesar salad the way it should be made. (Well, not really. I don’t like anchovies.)

It is also possible that I have invented the term “date Caesar.” Feel free to spread it around, if only to enable diners who want garlic to use the shorthand when negotiating with the servers.