No trip to NOLA is complete without a saunter down Lower Decatur to Central Grocery for a muffaletta sandwich. Their’s is the original sandwich (yes contrary to what rivals down the street may say, Central Grocery invented the durned thing, turn of that other century).
A round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced Provolone cheese, Genoa salami and Cappicola ham, topped with Olive Salad: a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, pimientos, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, capers, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper.
Pure, hearty, salty bliss.
And thrifty too—one sandwich can feed 4 people!
And, happily, reproducable at home.
Muffaletta, like gazpacho, is one of those things that we make off the cuff. Sure, there’s a standard list of ingredients that we pull from. But actual amounts, specific combinations vary from batch to batch. Mostly, I just keep adding things until it smells right. If I can lean of the bowl, inhale deeply, and hear the sounds of the French Quarter, then its done.
And damn, today’s batch had my feet aching, and the back of my shirt clinging to me in that summer New Orlean’s humidity. A jazz band winding up a block away, and the shriek of kids along the street. It was good.