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‘Hot Slaw’: A Hot Culinary Commodity In – Tennessee?

One of the first things I learned about Carolina Barbecue was that you can’t have a proper pulled pork sandwich without a dollop of Carolina Slaw on top. But now, ‘Hot Slaw’ may be declared Tennessee’s state condiment…

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Some like it hot…

Many of us think of slaw as a cold shredded cabbage dish, with either a vinaigrette or mayo dressing. Sometimes a blend of cabbage and carrot and/or apple. It’s a mainstay of many traditional North American meals.

But in Tennessee, they prefer it hot. It’s described as a, ” beloved combination of cabbage, mustard, and assorted (and occasionally top-secret) spices.”

From legend to statue

A recent Food & Wine story relates, “Tennessee State Representative Kevin Raper — who is from Cleveland, the epicenter of the state’s Hot Slaw obsession — recently filed House Bill 1597, which proposes giving the spicy side dish an official state designation. He has also filed a second bill that would name Cleveland as Tennessee’s official Hot Slaw Capital.”

Yes, there is a Cleveland, Tennessee. President Grover Cleveland is, in fact, commemorated across the US as the name of no fewer than 28 towns and cities. And Cleveland, TN, has long been celebrated as the birthplace and seat of Hot Slaw.

Turned into a picnic

The State House committee session where Raper introduced the bill turned into something of a picnic. Bill co-sponsor, Sen. Adam Lowe, passed out samples of authentic Hot Slaw to committee members.

In support of his bill, Raper praised Hot Slaw’s versatility, noting it could be used as a condiment, like sauerkraut, on hot dogs, hamburgers, and other sandwiches. And that it can also (of course) be served as a side dish.

On its way to immortality

Hot Slaw is on its way to immortality. Just one more hurdle to clear. Raper reports that his bill received enthusiastic support in committee, and will go on to the House for final approval.

The vote is scheduled within a few weeks. And Hot Slaw could become the official State Condiment in time for the annual Hot Slaw Festival in Cleveland, which begins on Saturday, April 6.

For the record, Tennessee has already recognised milk as the official state beverage, the tomato as the official state fruit, and pumpkin as the official state pie.

My take

What a great side for any meal, anytime of year, indoors or out! Check out the deep-background story on Hot Slaw at Fuzz’s Hot Slaw (of Cleveland)’s website. And try this authentic recipe!

~ Maggie J.

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