One evening you receive an e-mail from an acquaintance, asking for your help. The e-mail runs as follows:

Dear friend,

I need your help! I've forgotten the combination to my safe and I need some important documents that are inside. I believe I hid the code in the attached recipe. Here's what I can say (it may or may not help):

  • The recipe is written in my handwriting
  • The safe has 6 dials
  • Each dial has values ranging from 1 to 100
  • I have a cousin Alex, and an aunt named Lavinia
  • I remember the default combination was 1-2-3-4-5-6 (that's the same combination I have on my luggage!), but I've definitely changed it since then

Help! I called my dad and he doesn't even LIKE Caesar salad. I'm so confused.

The following recipe is attached to the e-mail:

Dad's Favorite Caesar Salad


  • 1 bag iceberg greens
  • 1 carton Alex's extreme simmered eggs
  • 2 ounces olives
  • 1 ounce shaved parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1 measure Lavinia's dressing


Mix the ingredients in the appropriate order (the amounts are just the start). Get rid of anything Caesar wouldn't recognize, or if the amount is too much. Once mixed, garnish with a crouton (or an anchovy - it's the same).

Can you help your friend out?


Follow the 3 steps of the instructions if you have trouble interpreting them, Hint 2 will be more explicit


Here are the steps: Get the order correct, then figure out the numbers from the ingredients (Quark has a mostly-right idea), then "garnish".

  • $\begingroup$ First puzzle, so would love comments from people. $\endgroup$
    – Duncan
    Mar 21, 2015 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ It looks nice, though quite hard. $\endgroup$
    – leoll2
    Mar 21, 2015 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ Glad it's presenting a challenge. Feel free to ask questions, though my thoughts behind it are probably simpler than the puzzle looks. $\endgroup$
    – Duncan
    Mar 21, 2015 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ Looks very nice. Is the Alex/Lavinia thing a red herring (or red anchovy perhaps)? $\endgroup$ Mar 22, 2015 at 1:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Caesar wouldn't recognise iceberg lettuce. It wasn't developed until the late 1940s. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Mar 22, 2015 at 9:45

2 Answers 2


Attempt at a glance:

2, 73, 59, 60, 13, 64


First, a focus is placed on "get rid of anything Caesar wouldn't recognize", basically look for the roman numerals. The names Alex and Latvinia seem to purposely contain a majority of roman numerals (i=1, v=5, x=10, l=50). The "or if the amount is too much" is what I assume to mean throw away any values 100 or over. Caesar ciphers normally involve adding to values which is why I add the values in the 6 ingredients (olives used twice) on top of the original 1,2,3,4,5,6.

Bit messy of an answer because not too confident about it.

  • $\begingroup$ This is partially correct, but not entirely. You're not using all of the instructions (they are all used). $\endgroup$
    – Duncan
    Mar 22, 2015 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the garnish would be to add 7 (number of letters in anchovy,crouton) to each number? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2017 at 19:31

Leaving only the roman numerals (IVXLCDM) of this:

1 bag iceberg greens
1 carton Alex's extreme simmered eggs
2 ounces olives
1 ounce shaved parmigiano-reggiano
1 measure Lavinia's dressing

Gives you many numbers that aren't valid, mostly because of the mcd. Since one of the clues is to remove anything that is too much, get rid of these digits and just use the ones that are ivxl.

i = 1, lxxi = 71, liv = 54, viii = 8, lviii = 58,

The only thing similar between a crouton and an anchovy are the number of letters. Thus, I propose the combination is:

1 71 54 8 58 7

This doesn't take into account the amounts - perhaps they are not needed? Also, it doesn't make any attempt at re-ordering.

EDIT: Corrected the 4th number. Also, if we perform the same operation on anchovy, and crouton, we get:

anchovy -> cv, crouton -> c

These are different numbers, so I don't think we can use this operation, unless there is a mistake?

  • $\begingroup$ You got the numbers mostly right - you missed a roman numeral in the parmesan one and the last one is wrong (do the same thing to that as the other numbers), but you do need to do some reordering to get it completely right. Pay attention to the language in the first instruction. There's a cryptic-type clue in that one. $\endgroup$
    – Duncan
    Mar 23, 2015 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Made an edit, but still can't resolve anchovy (cv) and crouton (c). $\endgroup$
    – Trenin
    Mar 23, 2015 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Note that the instructions say "they're the same" for the garnish. So what's the same between them? $\endgroup$
    – Duncan
    Mar 23, 2015 at 19:51

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