About five years ago I began a quest for the perfect Caesar salad. I vowed to try a Caesar in every place I could. I tried them all over Hometown, I tried them interstate. In the interest of full investigation, I even tried the one at McDonalds (not suprisingly, it was the most revolting Caesar I ever had). The best one I had was, unfortunately, about a thousand k's away from where I lived.
I became pretty picky about Caesars. Now, I'm not too much of a purist. I can cope if they use iceburg lettuce instead of cos. I've been known to add chicken or even prawns to my order. I'm happy if the anchovies are in the sauce, I'm happy if they're in strips (but the Parmesan must be real, shaved Parmesan). What I'm looking for is good quality ingredients, in good proportions, with a good flavour. And at least a vague resemblance to the original.
But a couple of years ago I noticed something, which became a disturbing trend quickly sweeping across my hometown and, as I discovered, across the country. Instead of croutons, people were now serving a slice or two of fried bread on the side of the plate. One place even actually just served toast on the side. Toast, I tell you! From the toaster!
What's the difference, you may ask? If it's fried bread, can't you just poke it with the fork a few times so it breaks up, and mix it in?
Not so well. You wind up with uneven chunks, and a hell of a lot of crumbs. It just doesn't taste the same as real croutons. Croutons, as far as I'm concerned, should be little cubes of fried (or baked) bread, slightly oily with the Caesar sauce oozing into them. A couple of slices of toast just don't cut it for me.
Nowadays, it seems impossible to get a Caesar with real croutons. This sliced bread thing seems the current hip way to serve a caesar all over the country.
So what are the Caesars like in your neck of the woods? Is this a worldwide trend?
And have any other foods changed their presentation, nay, their very structure, so radically and so ubiquitously?