On my first trip to The Big Easy, I ate quite well.
But I left without trying something that I have always dreamed of eating.
No, not some ultra expensive caviar or deluxe champagne.
An original muffaletta from Central Grocery.
Legend has it that Salvatore Lupo, the store’s original owner, invented this sandwich in 1906 for the dock workers and produce grocers of the city. The Sicilian immigrant layered cold cuts, cheese, and a spicy relish onto freshly baked loaves of round bread and served them to hungry customers.
The rest is history.
This tiny grocery store is packed full of Italian and European imports. Cheeses, meats, olives. Preserved fruits, breads, olive oils, and vinegars. The real pull here, though, is that mufaletta. Just line up, wait your turn, and order a half ( each quarter of the sandwich is HUGE).
This is a great example of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” What appears to be an ordinary sandwich is, in fact, quite extraordinary.
It’s the best damn cold cut sandwich I ever had in my life.
Garlicky salami, ham so sweet and thin that it might as well be prosciutto, and creamy, tangy provolone. Bread that is thick but not dense, substantial, but not cottony. And that relish. THAT RELISH. Garlic, olives, capers, peppers, vinegar, and love? That’s all I can guess that’s in there. Both my sister (olive-hater) and I (olive-lover) were crazy about this relish. If we had done stow-away luggage, we would have brought some home! Here, the whole is really greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t like ham – never have, never will. When it comes to sandwiches, I ALWAYS need more veggies than meat. And I have always thought that this sandwich looked a little too dry for my tastes – where’s the mayo or mustard?
This. is. perfect. I had no fewer than 2 of these in 36 short hours.
And I brought one on the plane.
Sure beat that packet of peanuts.
Don’t miss this sandwich – stand and eat it at the counter or bring it home for a midnight snack.
Next up: A real Southern brunch, y’all.