Fact: ‘slaw can make or break a meal.
Let’s be honest, you can’t really fuck up fries. Oh, you got a garden salad on the side? You mean store bought spring mix with balsamic dressing? Upgraded to the caesar? Can’t really fuck that up either…unless it tastes too much like anchovies (looking at you, Old Spaghetti Factory). Sides are simple, easy fillers that any person can throw together on a plate to add more to your meal. Coleslaw is such a risky side because it isn’t that simple, and CAN be fucked up.
You need to be able to balance your fresh crunchy cabbage mix with a good carrot ratio. The way you dress your coleslaw is also key with what you’re pairing it with. I tend to find that heavier barbecue meats pair better with a creamier, heavy on the mayo (and sometimes buttermilk) dressing. Meanwhile, drier, crispier meats that are meant to feel like lighter fare pair better with a lighter dressing, typically balsamic. Poor pairing and poor dressing offset fresh ingredients and great meat. Hours put into meticulously choosing the freshest local ingredients and slaving away at the perfect marinade can be undone by rushing your coleslaw recipe. What I’m getting at is that the flavour of coleslaw is what makes it such a volatile side. Sides are usually so forgettable because they aren’t the meat and potatoes of the meal, so to speak. Unlike fries or a salad, the variety of coleslaw and how flavourful it can be is why it often doesn’t play well with others.
Don’t even begin to get me started on coleslaw that had been integrated into a meal (like on a burger). Your head chef needs to be willing to put his or her dick on the line to make that kind of power play. If you’re currently asking yourself why this is such a big deal, please think of it this way: when coleslaw is a side, despite the fact that it may not be to your taste, you can move it aside and hopefully remain focused on the food left in front of you. If the coleslaw is, say, on your burger, you’re going to have to pick it off. In reality, it’s not usually the cabbage itself you have an issue with, because you knew what you were getting into when you made that order; it’s the dressing. And that dressing has now become a constitutional part of every other component of your burger. With coleslaw, it’s not enough that the coleslaw by itself is good. The challenge is that it needs to be in harmony with every other piece of your meal – including your drink. When it’s done right though…my god. The heaven’s open, angels sing, and your heart soars. Elated? The word doesn’t even give that feeling justice. You’ve just scored your dream job, landed you dream guy/girl, and won the lottery – all at the same time.
Finally, to all you mayo haters that hate on coleslaw by default, step off. If you can’t separate the fact that all you really hate about the dish is the mayo based dressing, just do yourself a favour and take a second look at any major life choices you make moving forward, as this is indicative of your inability to make any kind of objective judgement calls. Too harsh? Truth hurts.
Let me just say that I have gone back to restaurants and ordered the same exact meal because the coleslaw was just that good. I have also avoided whole eateries as a result of the coleslaw being that fucking bad. As an eaterie, if you can’t take pride in your coleslaw, what can you take pride in?