Australian ‘delicacy’ dividing the internet
When I was a kid, my grandmother would sometimes give me sandwiches filled with a mixture of grated carrot, grated cheese and mayonnaise. And I hadn't even done anything wrong.
If your brain is struggling to compute this combo, think of it as coleslaw but made by someone who couldn't be stuffed walking to the shops for cabbage and decided to sub in some grated cheese instead.
I have a strong suspicion these sandwiches are part of the reason I am such a damaged adult. They were a crime against the human mouth, and I take no joy in detailing this childhood trauma in the following paragraphs.
The sandwiches were usually made on white bread that had no discernible nutritional value, slathered with bright yellow margarine. The cheese was cleft from that strange Kraft block in the blue packaging that you found on the supermarket shelf (why didn't it need to be refrigerated? WHY?), and the mayo was the low-rent kind that was like thinned down Clag craft paste with a weird tang.
The margarine was there to make a valiant attempt at preventing the filling from making the bread soggy, but frankly, it never stood a chance. The combined moisture from the carrot and the mayonnaise was too much for the margarine to handle, and you were invariably left with bread that disintegrated upon contact with your hand, and a sludge that ran down your arm and into your sleeve. Then your mum would yell at you for having orange slime all over your face and your school uniform. Viva la 1980s (also, RIP grandma, you meant well, and I love you very much).
So imagine my surprise today when I discovered this lurid orange combo has a name - "cheeseslaw" - and the people of Broken Hill consider it a local delicacy.
This jaw-dropping info came to my attention as the Macquarie Dictionary has announced "cheeseslaw" will be immortalised in the pages of its 2020 print edition.
Anyone been to Broken Hill and had a #cheeseslaw sandwich? We'd love to know what you think and whether you think this old-new word should go in the dictionary. https://t.co/fByR4Mw2eD pic.twitter.com/WmO2g3RQia— Macquarie Dictionary (@MacqDictionary) April 12, 2019
While the origin of the slaw can't be confirmed (if it was my grandma who invented it I am so, so sorry), the ABC reports there is no disputing its enduring popularity in Broken Hill. It's been served at family lunches in the town since the 1930s and sold in milk bars since the '60s. They even have an annual cheeseslaw-making competition where the winner takes home a Golden Grater trophy.
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Having my last Broken Hill delicacy - a cheese slaw sandwich! Cheese slaw is found extensively in Broken Hill, where it is served in restaurants, prepared in households, and has been stated to be "ingrained in the local diet". It has been served in Broken Hill cafes and milk bars since the second half of the 20th century. #cheeseslaw #brokenhill #outback #outbackfood #foodie #slaw #sanga
The local chicken shop, Ragenovich's, has been selling the side dish for decades.
"For as long as I can remember - and I've been there 22 years - we've been selling heaps and heaps of tubs of cheeseslaw," Ragenovich's co-owner Christine Reiss told the ABC.
Her shop goes through at least 20 kilograms of carrots every four days to keep up with demand.
Upon confirmation "cheeseslaw" would be included in the dictionary, the people of Broken Hill sprung forth with a healthy dose of local pride. Their praise for the brightly-hued foodstuff and edgy serving suggestions lit up Twitter.
That said, not everyone is jazzed by the culinary creation.
I never knew cheeseslaw existed, and I kind of wish I still didn't. https://t.co/ZM1HjiKXiO— Dr Imogen Saunders (@imogensaunders) May 2, 2019
According to the ABC, the woman who can take credit for having "cheeseslaw" added to the Macquarie Dictionary is Margaret Lesjak who moved to Broken Hill in 2005 and submitted the word for consideration in March.
Ms Lesjak said she first noticed the dish in the local hospital cafeteria.
"It was always interesting to watch the new doctors try cheeseslaw," she said.
"Often they'd only try it once."
The fact medical professionals are only prepared to eat this concoction once speaks volumes.
For those interested in the cheeseslaw story - take a look back at the salt and peppered history of the Broken Hill delicacy. How great is a cheeseslaw toasty? And are shredded gherkins allowed in the recipe? https://t.co/pXPMWI96A1— Gavin Coote (@GavinCoote) May 2, 2019
Get chicken and chips with cheeseslaw from Raganavic's chicken shop!— Makh 'WinLunch' Lakh (@MakhLakh) March 25, 2019
Best feed in town