A Southern Culinary Law and Side-dish: Cole Slaw aka Slaw

There’s no way you can have barbeque, fried catfish, or fried chicken without cole slaw as a side dish. Sometimes it’s simply called slaw. For all I can determine, it’s a culinary law in the South, that slaw is not only served with these main dishes, but is also present at church potluck suppers and picnics. Always.

Cole slaw is a vegetable-based salad made from the cole family of plants. It ranks right up there with American greats such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

For those that might be unfamiliar with this side dish, it is made from finely shredded raw cabbage, red cabbage, chopped sweet pickles, shredded carrots, onions, and dressed in vingerette or mayonnaise. Some folks get carried away making slaw and add stuff not traditionally used. Pineapple, celery seed, apple chunks, bell pepper, jalapenos, and other such ingredients. Dressings can be fancied up with buttermilk, blue cheese, or sour cream.

Among modern slaw fans, shredded broccoli with onions, carrots, and Ramen noodles dressed with ginger, vinegar, and oil is gaining popularity. In fact, a vinegar-based coleslaw is used on a variant of the Rueben sandwich, usually made with sauerkraut, called a Rachel Sandwich.

Truth be told, the traditional cabbage slaw with onions, sweet pickles, and mayonnaise is the star of church suppers and southern dinner on the ground. No need to get fancy –unless you have just moved South from some place slightly north and are trying hard to fit into the community.  

Need recipes? There’s really no shortage of ways to fix this side-dish-picnic-staple-potluck-supper dish. Find what tickles your taste buds at this recipe site. Two incidents of coleslaw can be found in my novel, If You Walk Long Enough.  No surprise since the tale is set in in the South. Look for it on bookstore shelves or online at Amazon. In the meantime, enjoy healthy eating with cole slaw.  


  1. My family uses sugar in their Cole Slaw and I hate it. I’m not fond of sweet pickles either. Dill pickles are what it’s all about. I have a quirk about sweetening vegetables. Cabbage and cucumbers should not be sweetened, in my opinion. 😉


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