Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vegetable Rights

My girlfriend in college was one of the few truly good people I've known. How we ever got together, or lasted so long, will always be a mystery to me. I mean, she cared about things, really cared. Now me? Occasionally, I have to put my middle finger in a splint, just to let the muscles rest. I've mellowed some with age, but not so as you'd notice. You see my point.

But first, we need to talk about cole slaw. I love cole slaw. That's the sort of thing I care about: getting some decent cole slaw with my barbecue or fried fish. Most restaurants can't be bothered. They treat the slaw as an afterthought. Shameful. And don't even get me started on the minced cabbage swimming in dressing that passes for cole slaw in a supermarket. Yuck, bleah, and ptui.

Well, not ptui. I'll still eat the stuff, but joylessly.

No, a properly made cole slaw starts with fresh shredded cabbage. Shredded, mind, not put through an industrial grinder. To that, you add some onion, some carrot, and a dressing that complements the main course. That's right: you need a few different dressings in your back pocket. And go easy on the dressing, for Lord's sake. It's a salad, not a soup.

If you have any idea what's good, you already know all this.

A good cole slaw is a true delight that enhances every bite of your meal. And, with a few glowing exceptions, the only way to get good cole slaw is to make it yourself. See? That's the sort of thing I care about.


In hindsight, sometimes you see signs you should have noticed. Little things that should have made you wonder. They seem so obvious after the fact you wonder how you could have missed their greater import.

We had been invited to a backyard barbecue. Someone suggested I bring the cole slaw. No argument from me on that. I'm always happy to bring the cole slaw. Other folks seem to be happy with that too, if empty bowls are evidence. True love shines through.

So I was in the kitchen putting a batch together. I looked up and saw her staring at me, looking distressed. What the... I could swear her eyes were welling up a little.

Um... is something wrong?

I... it's... you... you just shred the cabbages up like that?

Well... yes, and... No, no, no. We're not going down this road. They're cabbages. It's just a salad.

Er, ok.


I must have been blinded by love. She was a truly good person. She really cared about things. But, in hindsight, there was a fundamental incompatibility there. People are one thing. Animals? Fine.

But vegetable rights ? That's going too far.

Very Truly Yours,




Buck said...

Heh. Ok, now you've done it. I've got 10cc's "Things We Do For Love" running through my head. It'll prolly be there ALL day.

Thanks. And pass the cole slaw, please.

Brittany said...


ds said...

Good coleslaw is an art...
Thanks for the smiles.

Hilary said...

Un huh.. What did that poor thing eat?

You're right about coleslaw.. very few people make really good slaw. I feel that way about potato salad too.

Lori said...

So you married that girl from college? :) I love cole slaw but it has to be made right. Right? Yep, I think you were blinded by love. :)

Cricket said...

Hi Hilary - It's not so much that she wouldn't eat. She had a naturally sweet disposition and an easily provoked empathy. The incident in question is absolutely true. Something about the way I was shredding that cabbage....

I imagine she felt like she was watching a bully rip apart a child's stuffed animal. It's just a thing, and yet....

I used the expression "vegetable rights" at the time. What is this?!? Vegetable rights?!? She saw the silliness in it, but that wouldn't have stopped it the next time.

Lori - Almost, but no. In the end, I married a girl from home. Almost as caring, and a lot less, um... breakable. ;-)

Unknown said...

I'm funny about my cole slaw too Porcupine and want my cabbage shredded as well.
And yep, there's been many a time I've nibbled at something and smiled hugely, just to please the host/hostess.

Redbush said...

I've eaten the kind of slaw you speak of which resembles more a soup. Good coleslaw is hard to come by. I don't know how many times I've had it, and it tastes blah, or gooey! Double yuk! Good for you at having an art in creating it. Wish I could taste yours!

Suldog said...

I've had a few odd lady friends in my day, but never one who was rendered lachrymose via a cabbage becoming what a cabbage was meant to become.

Great tale.

Land of shimp said...

Well, I'm with you on the slaw, Cricket. When I married Rob I introduced him to the concept of coleslaw as a sandwich topper. He thought I was a genius.

Worse than over dressed slaw? Underdressed slaw. Whole Foods coleslaw is a crime against taste buds.

Your long ago girlfriend sounds...umm...well, you know I want to say "Nice" and I fully believe you about her being a good person, but here's hoping she developed a few more callouses otherwise she might have been crushed under the weight of her excessively tender feelings.

I suppose you could have told her that you already thanked the soul of the cabbage for its sacrifice, and released unto the spirit in the sky but...

Somehow I'm thinking that would have gotten old over the course of a lifetime.

She probably married a lovely man. Together they weep over the slaughter of dust bunnies whenever they clean.

Cricket said...

Hi Shimp -

Absolutely - Cole slaw on a corned beef on rye? Mmmm. I like it on hot dogs, too, a good beef frank on a grilled roll with slaw. Also mmmmm.

... here's hoping she developed a few more callouses otherwise she might have been crushed under the weight of her excessively tender feelings.

Sadly, if you reverse the order here, I think that's exactly what did happen. We are no longer in touch, but I think it turned out all right in the end.

Bossy Betty said...

Coleslaw is very important to me and I, too, take it seriously. We could have a very long discussion about this. How do you feel about the inclusion of poppy seeds?

Cricket said...

Hi Betty -

I may have to devote an entire post to the Divine Slaw.

As far as poppy seeds go, I'm not a purist in most things. My personal preference, if there are to be seeds, is for celery seeds. Even so, I think poppy seeds would be ok if the dressing were the sugar/vinegar type.

In a creamy slaw, not so much, though I would still eat it.

lime said...

oh that is actually pretty hilarious. i think she'd be utterly mortified by the way i shuck corn. though she does sound like a lovely person. as for cole slaw, i've never been a great fan because there are so few people who make it well. i'd be willing to give yours a whirl though. the fact that it's not a soup gives me hope.

CiCi said...

I thought you were going to share a great cole slaw recipe at the end of the post. I so agree with you about slaw not being soup.