(Notes: My apology for omitting the pronunciation for 'lagniappe' yesterday. Wikipedia lists it as 'LAN-YAP' and this works if you don't drag out either 'a'. And this reminds me, those who live in South Louisiana often say 'luz-i-ana' while those in the northern half of the state often say 'louise-i-ana (with 'i' pronounced 'e'.) Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. ESPN commentators struggled with the differences for a bit, but seem to have settled on 'louise-i-ana'. Ditto with LSU (LSshoe with a quick 'S'). Commentators have begun to pronounce LSU with distinct letters. Hmmm, not sure if I like dat.
I had no intention of changing my template when I awoke this a.m. But it looks like Blogger gave me no choice. Will sort this templet mess out later. *sighs*)
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While the po'boy (poor boy) sandwich reigns supreme just about everywhere in South Louisiana (and in southeast Texas and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast), the muffaletta sandwich enjoys great popularity, especially in New Orleans, where it was invented. A muffaletta is a VERY big sandwich with various high-quality Italian meats and cheeses on somewhat chewy round bread with an olive spread (that is key to the sandwich). Mini-mini mufalettas are popular at casual parties throughout South Louisiana.
I thought Wikipedia also had a good explanation of the sandwich's pronunciation: Like many of the foreign-influenced names found in New Orleans, the pronunciation of "muffuletta" has evolved from its phonetic forebear. Some locals pronounce the word "muff-uh-LOT-uh." The proprietors of Central Grocery pronounce it "moo-foo-LET-ta".
Like the po'boy sandwich, the mufaletta evolved from the rush to feed hungry workers with little money who waited in line. Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant, invented the muffaletta in 1906 in his deli/grocery, Central Grocery, on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. I got lucky on Wikipedia with a photo of Central Grocery without lines of customers (otherwise you wouldn't see much of what the grocery looks like). With Cafe' du Monde's beignets not far from Central Grocery, one sighs contentedly and goes with the flow. Yep, these delicious morsels aren't just for tourists. We dive in, too!
Mr. Lupo retired in 1946, but his family still owns and operates the Central Grocery.
The muffaletta is so big, one usually satisfies two people. For those who prefer other meats, Central Grocery offers a wide variety of sandwiches. If this lacks appeal, well, chocolate covered grasshoppers are available. (Seriously!)
Two-thirds of a muffaletta. I'm serious, you gotta be really hungry. (Source: Central Grocery)
Cafe du Monde on a normal day. (Source: Cafe du Monde)
Beignets. Yep, I'm drooling here! When I get an order to go, I ask for the powdered sugar (castor sugar) on the side as the sugar will melt/stick onto the beignets. I'm not fond of really sweet stuff so will shake off a lot of the sugar when beignets are served. (Source: Cafe du Monde)
This is the coffee served with the beignets. It's a bit pricey as it's a small, in-house brand with a secret coffee and chicory blend that really, really compliments beignets. (But I request less milk as I'm not fond of coffee with a lot of milk. Picky, aren't I?) Chicory is one of the oldest roots in recorded history, originally used by the Ancients to rid the body of stomach parasites. When chicory came to the U.S., it was primarily used as a substitute brew for coffee for prisoners. During the Civil War, when much of the South was blockaded, Louisianians couldn't get coffee beans regularly so began adding chicory to what was available. The unique taste with a dash of bitterness remained after the Civil War and is still extremely popular today. Several local coffee brands sell coffee and chicory at reasonable prices. I stock up on all when I go home, but have also found Louisiana brands at Home Goods.)