We’re back in the French Quarter for this latest instalment of New Orleans in 18 Eats, with a visit to Central Grocery and Deli for the mutha of all mega-sized sandwiches: the mighty muffuletta.
Of Italian American origin, the muffuletta is a 10” round sandwich on Sicilian sesame loaf loaded with layers of mortadella and/or ham, salami, provolone (and maybe mozzarella), and marinated olive salad. The sandwich was first created at Central Grocery by its founder Salvatore Lupo sometime soon after opening the grocery in 1906. A delicious assemblage, the sandwich is a brilliant example of immigrant resourcefulness and thoughtfully crafted design.
Sliced into quarters and pressed flat before being wrapped tight in wax paper, the muffuletta’s compact appearance belies the meaty bounty of each bite. Given its cured and preserved ingredients, it keeps well too. Sopping up the oil with its light and fluffy interior while retaining a crisp outer crust, the bread – a sort of mix between focaccia and Louisiana style French bread – works to maintain is structure while giving it some crunch.
A whole 10″ sandwich costs less than $15; a half is $7.50. A quarter slice should suffice for even the most hankering of appetites.
Although the sandwich probably accounts for the vast majority of sales, it’s not just about the muffuletta at Central. Now in its third generation of family ownership, the shop is an actual grocery – if catering more to tourists than local folks shopping for weekly provision. A significant amount of shelf space is dedicated to snacks and refreshments for French Quarter sightseers, a range of edible souvenirs (such a jars of the very marinated olive salad used in the muffuletta), and an assortment of mostly Italian imported foods.
Central Grocery and Deli is located at 923 Decatur Street, 70116. Find out more at centralgrocery.com.
Save room for the next post! I’ll be back soon with more in my series about New Orleans in 18 Eats.