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Food Porn Friday: A light lunch

"Excuse me, sir, I orded *half* a sandwich."

"Excuse me, sir, I ordered *half* a sandwich."

When it comes to sandwiches in New Orleans, I've always been a slave to the po-boy.  The muffaletta is a beloved classic, of course, but as a child, the olive salad threw me off a bit, and it took me well into my adulthood to appreciate our hometown homage to the classic Italian sandwich (much to my shame as a New Orleanian).  Then my palate evolved, until one day, I treasured that wonderful round Sicilian loaf piled with cured meats and cheeses, then topped with a healthy helping of, yes, olive salad.  It is a thing of beauty, and wholly, uniquely, New Orleans.

I was musing recently on the muffaletta, and I asked my friends where they get their favorites.  Central Grocery came up first, of course, because they invented the thing, well back in the early 20th century, to feed the hungry Italian farmers selling their vegetables in the French Market.  Then came Cochon Butcher, my favorite muffaletta in the city, and arguably the finest example of this sandwich available, for a couple of reasons: First, it's served hot, as opposed to the cold version at the Central Grocery, and few things in this world make me happier than cheese that I get to describe as "melty."  Second, since Donald "sausage" Link and his crew revere the hog in the way that certain cultures worship their gods with a deep, fanatical devotion, they cure all of their meats in-house.  That counts for a lot.

Further discussion of the best muffs in town brought up the Napoleon House, Maspero's, R&O, Steins, the heart-attack-in-waiting "Frenchuletta" at Liuzza's served on half a loaf of buttery garlic bread, World Deli, Giorlando's, and the one you can find at Zephyr Field (nothing makes a sandwich better than a cold beer and a ball game ... okay, maybe waffle fries).  Then a friend mentioned the "seafood muffaletta" at Parran's Po-Boys in Metairie.  Much to my shame, I'd never heard of it.  Essentially, it's a seafood po-boy served on a muffaletta loaf.  No meats, no cheeses, no olive salad, just good Sicilian bread erupting with fried catfish, shrimp and oysters.

I needed one immediately.

Having an afternoon free, I made my way out to Parran's to check out this Franken-sandwich, a po-boy/muffaletta hybrid.  To say that this beast is "generous" would be an insulting understatement.  In true NOLA fashion, it is a half tractor tire-sized monstrosity of fried seafood, dressed with the necessary lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayonnaise.  I wold love to tell you that I ate the whole thing and asked for seconds, but let's be realistic; I'm no competitive eater.  So I blissed out on one half of this glorious Frankenstein of a sandwich -- much to the delight and fascination of the elderly California couple dining at the next table -- and took the other half home to bliss out on later.  Truly, the seafood muffaletta is a thing of beauty, if not moderation.

So, now that I know that this sandwich exists (and thank the food gods for that), I have to wonder ... is there anything else out there like this I might be missing?  Do tell!

Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore and a blog by the same name, has written for Gourmet, Edible Brooklyn, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Catch his weekly food column for The Advocate here.

 


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.