Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Basket Full of Coleslaw

I've got a pile of old booklets and  magazines on my desk waiting for me to scan them so I can share them with you here. But I'm in the middle of rearranging all the bookshelves on the main floor of the house (don't ask) and the scanner will have to wait. I used to work in a library and it's all coming back to me. The dust, the books spilling into piles, trying to get the shelves and subjects even, finding books I'd been hunting for for ages (who knew they were behind another row of books on the back porch? not me). Anyway, I'm tired, too tired even to make coleslaw, which is very easy and you don't need to turn on the oven or anything.

So let's look at this ad instead. Did people ever really present their food like this, in real life, in 1964? I don't think they did. Coleslaws in hollowed out cabbages, for heaven's sake.

In The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, John Mariani says that coleslaw gets its name from the Dutch word koolsla, which quite literally means cabbage salad, and that it known in the US as early as the end of the 18th century.

Mrs. Washington in The Unrivalled Cook-book and Housekeeper's Guide (1885) says that to make a good coleslaw, pour hot "Philadelphia sauce" over finely shredded (and salted) cabbage, then let it cool down. Philadelphia sauce is basically sour cream boiled with butter, vinegar, salt and sugar, and a couple of optional egg yolks (in other words, something close to mayonnaise or salad dressing).

Most modern coleslaw recipes call for tossing shredded cabbage with some mayonnaise and a little mustard or vinegar. It's nice to use a mix of red and white cabbage, maybe shredded carrots too, for color. No cabbage baskets or orange peel bows required.

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