If my adopted father were alive today, he’d be nearly 90 years old. He passed away when I was seven years old, but I still love this story my dad told me.
I had gone to work with him on the Canal Street docks. For lunch we had a muffuletta with a creme soda. Sitting there at seven years old with a gang of dock workers, I overheard this story about the origins of the New Orleans muffuletta, and, true or not, I’ve always cherished it, Like that day.
After the Depression, a bunch of broke German, Irish and Italian dock workers, being short on cash, all decided to pitch in for lunch. The Irishmen stuck to ham and Swiss, the Germans brought the imported salami, and the Italians brought the provolone and the olive salad.
Now, the olive salad was imported from Italy and sold on Decatur Street (across from the docks) at the Italian grocery store we still go to this day for muffuletta roll, garlic, and oil heavy salad ( a.k.a. wop salad). These sandwiched were split among the workers regardless of ethnic preference, and a ritual was born.
Now, I usually stay away from giving out recipes, but here’s one I’d love to share: The New Orleans Muffuletta (in this order)
- First, with a vented spoon, drain the garlic oil from the olive salad onto the bottom piece of the muff bun
- A few slices of good, quality ham
- Swiss cheese, preferably imported
- Imported cheese
- Top of all off with a generous portion of olive salad and the top half of the bun
- Some folks toast’ em until the cheese melts
- Some folks do not (old school)
A hint… get your bread and olive salad at the Central Grocery on Decatur Street and it’s hard to go wrong.