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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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coleslaw a term derived from the Dutch koolsla, formed by combining two Dutch words, kool meaning cabbage, and sla, an abbreviated word meaning salad. The salad in question is normally shredded cabbage mixed with mayonnaise and nowadays often with additions such as a little shredded carrot.

The form ‘cold slaw’ is also commonly met, and it is customary to say that this is simply the result of a misunderstanding on the part of people who do not know how the term originated. However, it is to be remarked that the earliest uses in America recorded by Craigie and Hulbert (1938) are in this form; they have citations for it from 1794 (‘a piece of sliced cabbage, by Dutchmen ycleped cold slaw’) and 1821, whereas the earliest for cole-slaw is from 1842.