Coleslaw?

kfc_coleslawHave you ever been struck by how odd sounding the name is that we use to refer to shredded cabbage covered in vinegar or mayonnaise?

During this month when many will enjoy corned beef and cabbage, our residents and staff will continue having coleslaw as part of the regular menu (about once or twice a week).

Believe it or not, the term coleslaw actually comes from the Dutch, koolsla, which simply means “cabbage salad.”

You may ask: how did a term from Holland make its way into common American usage?  The answer comes from the Dutch immigrants to New York who brought their cabbage salad recipe with them.  Actually, though, something akin to today’s coleslaw dates back as far as the ancient Romans. In fact, the ‘cole’ in cole slaw is similar to the latin, colis, which means cabbage.

You will notice the similarity between to kool (cabbage) and the term Kale, which is actually from Scotland.

There are variations around the world; many countries have cabbage salads of their own.  For example, Germans enjoy Krautsalat, or finely shredded cabbage with an oil/vinegar marinade.  It may even have apples or onions in it.

In Italy, insalata capricciosa includes cooked ham and sliced pepper.

Poles enjoy a number of coleslaw-like dishes, which are often served as a side dish to their second course.  These salads include some form of cabbage (often white), as well as minced onions, dill or parsley, shredded carrots, and who knows what else (additional miscellaneous ingredients are often used).  In Russia and the Ukraine, sunflower oil is used as dressing, and carrots, apples, cranberries or the like are often added as well.

In Sweden, they serve a cabbage salad with vinegar, oil and seasonings and accompanies, of all things, pizza!

The British, on the other hand, eat their cabbage salad with mayonnaise or salad cream and sometimes include cheese, nuts, or dried fruits.

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