By Rowena Horne
You run a small restaurant, it is the 4th of July and a rush of customers has depleted your kitchen’s supplies. “Order in for three salads!”. You go to the fridge and the only ingredient that’s left on the shelf is cos lettuce. What do you do next?
If it was 1924 and your name was Mr Cardini you would thrive under pressure and go on to invent what the International Society of Epicure declared “the greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years.”
Tim Hartford, an economist and financial journalist, weighs in on the topic of creativity (not in salad ingredients but in how frustrations can force us to new levels of creative problem solving) in this TED Talk stating “all of us, from time to time, need to sit down and try and play the unplayable piano”.
The tune Mr Cardini played consisted of jazzing up the lettuce with left over garlic bread and a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and salt & pepper. The story may have ended there, except that he added dramatic flair by tossing live at the table, adding coddled eggs, parmesan and a touch of Worcestershire sauce. His salad, and particularly the serving ritual at the table, was requested the next week and then the next. Word spread.
Mr Cardini, or Caesar to his friends, had already displayed ingenuity running a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico particularly to attract Americans frustrated by prohibition laws. But he elevated a simple dish to symphonic# proportions by backing his play.
Would you have just been happy to give the waiter something to serve or would you have thought to add the metaphorical icing on the salad with how it was presented? He ensured his guests felt like they were enjoying special silver service (rather than the last wilted leaf in the fridge)!
It comes down to cognitive psychology really. We’ve actually known for a while that certain kinds of difficulty, certain kinds of obstacle, can actually improve our performance. The harder you have to work, the more creative you are, and the more you learn.
So to recap, the salad we all know and love was invented in Mexico solely because someone failed to order sufficient stock for a busy weekend…AND a persistent, creative restaurateur was at the helm, rising to the challenge.
At Bunch, one of our values is “make it happen”. We haven’t invented a salad (yet) but we often turn lemons into lemonade!^
*this should really be caese the day!
# this will only make sense if you have watched the TED Talk
^ But, if you can give us great ingredients and a long time in the kitchen we’ll do even better…and create something to stand the test of time