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The term "coleslaw" arose in the 20th century as an Anglicisation of the Dutch term "koolsla", a shortening of "koolsalade", which means "cabbage salad". Coleslaw, sometimes simply called "slaw" in some American dialects, is a type of salad consisting primarily of shredded raw cabbage. It may also include shredded carrots.

There are many variations of the recipe which include the addition of other ingredients, such as red cabbage, pepper, onion, grated cheese, pineapple, or apple, mixed with a salad dressing such as mayonnaise. In the U.S. coleslaw often also contains buttermilk or mayonnaise substitutes, and carrot; although many regional variations exist, and recipes incorporating prepared mustard or vinegar are also common.

A variety of seasonings, such as celery seed, may be added. The dressing is usually allowed to settle on the blended ingredients for several hours before being served. The cabbage may come in finely minced pieces, shredded strips, or small squares.

Coleslaw is generally eaten as a side dish with foods such as barbecue, French fries, and fried chicken. It may also be used as a sandwich ingredient, placed on barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs along with chili and hot mustard.

In Bulgaria Coleslaw in known as Zeleva salad.

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