Late 1960s Australia. My mother adds a recipe to her limited repertoire–she discovers coleslaw.
This was not your average American coleslaw with shredded cabbage, watery mayonnaise (or mayonnaisy water–it’s really a spectrum) and the occasional raisin. No, this was shredded cabbage with actual mayonnaise, and–wait for it–diced ham and grapes!
I know, the creativity boggles the mind, doesn’t it? The things you can do with coleslaw!
Though I’m being sarcastic here, this coleslaw was indeed a rare treat. We never had diced anything but Spam, it seems, and certainly never anything as expensive as grapes. To think of all the antiques we wouldn’t have been able to schlep back to the Netherlands in 1970 if we ate like that on a regular basis!
My mother made this coleslaw a few times during Australian summers, to take with us on day trips and to be consumed by the bank of a river after hours in our car with no air conditioning. No wonder I seem to have spent much of my childhood bent double in pain in our little outhouse, occasionally visited there by the family doctor…
But I digress.
I don’t remember ever having coleslaw in the Netherlands , so fast forward to 1994.
Here, coleslaw is the staple side dish for barbecue: shredded cabbage, mayonnaisy water and the occasional raisin. A refreshing contrast to grease-dripping brisket, sausage and a flap or two of white bread, but not interesting enough to add to my personal repertoire.
Then, a few years ago, in a fit of coleslaw creativity, I came up with my own version. I don’t remember how it happened, exactly, but my guess is that I was responsible for bringing coleslaw to a barbecue.
Never having been able to stick to a recipe, especially a boring one like your standard coleslaw, I started doing my own thing. No mayonnaise, and diced sliced turkey is optional, so it’s fine for outdoors events. I’ve made it a lot for potlucks and it’s a hit. And if you really feel coleslaw isn’t coleslaw without the mayo, then, by all means, add some.
So here you have it:
Prep time: approximately 10 minutes.
Makes 1 big bowl
- coleslaw or shredded cabbage, 1 bag
- walnuts, 1 big handful
- dried cranberries (craisins), 1 big handful
- 1 apple, diced
- 2 mandarin oranges or 1 small can mandarin oranges or pineapple
- 1 packet sliced smoked turkey, diced (optional) (Don’t do chicken; it’s too weak somehow.)
- plenty of walnut oil or olive oil
- a few good squirts of lemon or lime juice
- salt or a few drops soy sauce
- plenty of curry
- plenty of thyme
- garlic powder (optional)
Mix and enjoy.
Do you have your own variation on coleslaw? Let me know!