Because, because, because, because!!
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It is unlikely that you’ve never seen of The Wizard Of Oz or eaten a Caesar salad… but have you ever combined the two?
Based on L. Frank Baum’s first Oz-based book published in 1900, The Wonderful Wizard Oz was adapted in 1902 into a Broadway production that Baum co-scripted. Although this production influenced the later books and the film, it was superseded by an entirely different musical version for the 1939 Judy Garland movie – which has itself been adapted for stage a number of times, initially in 1945. In 1987, the Royal Shakespeare Company produced a new version, closely based on the screenplay and songs (including an extended version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Trout)). Away from London, this RSC version has been very successful in a number of Australian and US tours (as recently as 2017), arena and “on ice” versions and a televised concert (starring Joel Grey, Debra Winger, Nathan Lane and Roger Daltrey).
Having formed the view that The Wizard Of Oz didn’t work on stage in its current format, in 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice collaborated on a new stage adaptation of the film, starring Michael Crawford as The Wizard, with the part of Dorothy cast through a BBC talent show, Over The Rainbow, the previous year. The show includes all the songs you would expect from the film and some new numbers for the Wizard, the Wicked Witch of the West and Dorothy. It ran for over 500 performances at the London Palladium, with successful touring productions in Canada, Australia and US, but has objectively been less successful than the RSC version and perhaps, in the era of the global phenomenon of Wicked, this isn’t too surprising.
We’re Off To See The Wizard is one of the most famous and catchy songs in the film and show, aided by numerous reprises, performed as Dorothy gathers up her companions on her way to, erm, see the wizard. It is a shame, however, that the verse where the gang stop for a light salad lunch never made it into the film…
Caesar salad was famously invented by Caesar Cardini at his restaurant in Tijuana on the 4th July 1924. Running out of food, he quickly threw together a salad of lettuce, croutons, parmesan with an egg-based dressing. The recipe has evolved and been adapted over the years and there is much argument as to what constitues a genuine Caesar salad.
I used Felicity Cloake’s recipe as a starting point (I like how she blends the anchovy into the egg, which helped me overcome my love/hate relationship with anchovies). Rather like Caesar Cardini, I didn’t have all the ingredients to hand (notably lemon juice or sourdough – I substituted vinegar and any old bread), and so adapted the recipe to the version below. I’ve added chicken to my version, which I pan-fried, but that’s optional – and any low carbers will probably want to omit the croutons!
Mix the grated garlic with the olive oil and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Toss the cubes of bread in the oil (leaving about half the garlicky oil behind) and bake the bread at 180C for 10-15 mins until golden. Meanwhile crush the anchovy fillets into the egg yolks and blend well, before slowly mixing in the remaining oil and, once emulsified, the vinegar. Adjust the seasoning.
Toss the lettuce and Parmesan with three quarters of the dressing. Garnish with croutons, sliced chicken, a drizzle of the remaining dressing and ribbons of Parmesan (use a vegetable peeler on the block of cheese to make these).
Tuck in… stealing a dead woman’s shoes and befriending strange men on a road trip must be hungry work!