New Orleans, over the course of its history, has seen waves of immigration from all over the world. Spanish, French, American (that’s right, at one time Americans coming to New Orleans were immigrants), Canary Island, Italian and Sicilian citizens all found their way to the Crescent City, and each group contributed to city’s unique food culture.
While most people are familiar with the po-boy sandwich, so named as it was invented to feed cash-poor streetcar workers when they were on strike, not everyone is as familiar with another of the city’s iconic sandwiches—the muffuletta. The muffuletta was developed, as the story goes, by a Sicilian grocery store owner in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The sandwich itself is a complex combination of ingredients—mortadella, hard salami, lean ham, mozzarella and provolone cheese, and olive mix (a delicious combination of pickled vegetables and spices), all organized between a 7-inch round of crusty Italian bread.
There are a number of places around New Orleans that serve a good muffuletta, but for your money, you can’t do much better than the place where it was invented—Central Grocery on Decatur Street. Just across from the French Market, Central Grocery, an archetypal Italian grocery that has been in business since 1906, serves hundreds of these delicious meals-on-a-roll each day.
By Brooks Hamacher, a food writer in New Orleans, La.