The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 07.05.03


Et tu Caesar?

I only have one complaint about rug rats. Why is it that no matter what you cook, they always want something else?

Really, from what I can tell this conspiracy goes back to the dawn of civilization. Papa caveman brings home fresh muskox and prairie antelope, Mama cavewoman cooks it over the open fire and the kids snub the offerings like so much spinach. Unfortunately, mama and papa were fresh out of boxed macaroni and cheese that week and I imagine it was unlikely they had any wieners, either.

As necessity is the mother of invention, then it stands to reason that the world's most popular kid food is derived from the need to halt whining and a fear that the children will starve. How else to explain Pogos or Fruit Roll-Ups? Even more perplexing is Fluff, which certainly was designed to support dentistry. Mix it with peanut butter and voila, you have Fluffernutter.

A decade of school lunches contained Jos Louis and Ah! Caramel cakes. Modern lunch packing includes syrupy-boxed juices and mini-pizzas along with any item that is extreme. In fact, if you want to convince the kids that something is good to eat, then all you have to do is give it a name that is up with the times.

Suggestions include Radical Cheese and Total Explosion Tuna sandwiches or even better yet the soon to be famous Extremely Awesome Egg sandwich. Add some Skier Boi celery and you'll have these kids eating out of your hand in no time. For the girls, they'll likely appreciate your efforts to include items such as Senza Sensations (grapes) and Fuzzy Funnies (kiwis). Aguilera Apples come to mind. J-Lo Jello might work, too.

Kids' lunches should not be taken too lightly and as I have witnessed, kids have very individual tastes. My almost 12-year-old daughter could eat Caesar salad 24/7 and insists that there are no anchovies in there. She knows better, of course, but who really wants to eat small, salty smelly fish?

Fortunately, even Zellers restaurants have this cookie-cutter salad on the menu. Not on the kids menu, mind you. No, restaurants have figured out that Caesar salad is worth at least $5.95 and that kids will still want a poutine on the side. Don't get me started about the poutine conspiracy.

Combine these two items and you have a kid's meal at $11.90 plus tax. Meanwhile, there is enough of both left over for two hearty school lunches and that just won't cut it, as both items really aren't very good as far as combo-packing goes. If I owned a restaurant I would include a new item called a Caesar-Pout that honours the tradition of such famous Quebec items such as pizza-ghetti.

In the meantime, I'm off to the kitchen to whip up some Caesar salad dressing for my daughter. You might try this recipe.

Caesar salad

one egg
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
I small squeeze anchovy paste from a tube or 4 anchovies from a tin
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 large head of fresh romaine lettuce washed, dried and torn into pieces
4 strips bacon, fried, patted dry and chopped
1/2 cup croutons
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except bacon, lettuce, croutons and cheese in a large wooden bowl and whisk vigorously. Add remaining ingredients and toss just before serving.