What is Coleslaw?


Coleslaw or “cole slaw” is a popular dish around the world that has been tweaked, refined and re-invented to fit any type of culture.  But one thing, one ingredient remains constant – cabbage.

Historians and culinary experts believe that coleslaw has existed since the Roman times.  It could be since the dressing of traditional coleslaw was vinegar.

Modern coleslaw on the other hand could not have been developed until the 18th century during the time when mayonnaise was invented.

It’s a simple food, really – as simple as cabbage and mayonnaise.  It has relatives in every corner of the globe.  Similar foods include kimchi from Korea whose main ingredient is also cabbage.  Sauerkraut is another comparable side dish from Germany mostly used to dress up sandwiches.

It’s a familiar side dish to pizza in Sweden.

But it is in the United States — especially in the Southern part — that it became a member of traditional cooking.

Coleslaw became a condiment that is always present in picnics, barbecues and family gatherings.  It has made its way even in fast food chain menus and restaurants.  This cabbage side dish can be dressed in the traditional mayo, mustard, or vinaigrette.  Other shredded fruits or vegetables like apples, pineapples, carrots, or broccoli may also be added to give it a unique flavor.

But no matter what the variation of coleslaw is, all requires for it to sit overnight, or for a few hours at least, before being served.