Today at our first "First Saturday" at our new shop (4858 1/2 Magazine Street near the corner of Upperline!), until 8pm, we're featuring our unique muffaletta treat: two bags of our Sweet Olive's Muffaletta treats for the price of only one! Through 8pm today, June 2nd. Shops all along Magazine Street are participating in June's First Saturday, check out all the specials!
What's a muffaletta, you ask? Would that Italian-sounding word be recognizable if spoken in Rome or Venice? Well, probably not, but if you're from New Orleans or have lived here for more than, say...three months ;-), you know what a muffaletta is! In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Sicilian immigrants arrived in town, and the local grocers in "Little Palermo," as the lower French Quarter was known then, served the Italian workers lunch with Sicilian sesame-seed-studded loaves of bread, slices of meat, cheese, and olives--the items purchased and eaten separately. Enterprising grocer Salvatore Lupo is credited with creating the muffaletta in 1906 at his Central Grocery store (still open today in the French Quarter, and still delicious!) by rolling all those separate ingredients into one sandwich, between two round slices of sesame bread: olive salad (officially a "secret" recipe, but might contain some combination of anchovies, olives, garlic, onions, celery, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and parsley), genoa salami, ham, mortadella, and provolone and swiss cheeses. And although the lower French Quarter is no longer known as "Little Palermo," the Sicilian immigrants' inventive, hearty, super meaty take on the sandwich remains one of New Orleans's most iconic food creations. A great little Nola food walking tour site provided some of the info here, check it out.
We here at Amis des Paux love being creative in celebrating New Orleans' famous food history, and we couldn't not make a muffaletta! It is named in honor of a sweet, sweet rescue pup named, what else...Olive! Sweet Olive's Mufffaletta treats contain all the dog-safe ingredients of a real muffaletta: pork, green olives, provolone cheese, celery, oregano, parsley, and olive oil. It's doubtful your dog will exclaim "Basta!" if you feed the doggo several of these! ;-) Sweet Olive is the canine baby of Kellie and Mike McCrae, lifelong close friends of Amis des Paux co-owner (and premier baker!) Kelly. Their support of our business has been absolutely instrumental in our keeping us up, running, and growing. And of course we all have a shared love of our sweet rescue pets!
I'm partial to the Cochon Butcher version of the muffaletta (probably one of the most expensive in the city, but I promise it's worth it!), but I'm a New Orleans transplant from the West Coast, and I've been accused of having no respect for local tradition, so there! Also a favorite: the tiny Verti Marte grocery and deli in the French Quarter (their po'boys are also A+). Almost anyplace in the city that sells a po'boy sells a muffaletta as well. Let us know where you've tried muffalettas (if you have visited New Orleans and tried one), and where your top one or two muffaletta joints in the city are (if you're a local!) in the comments on this post.
One of my favorite books about New Orleans and food is the 2009 book is "Gumbo Tales, Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table" by Nola transplant Sara Roahen. Because I wasn't familiar with the history of some local food traditions, it was all new and all fascinating to me. She explores the connections between the food and the local culture--how and why New Orleans is one of those foodcentric cities where it is common practice to plan your next meal with your companions while you're still eating the meal on the plate in front of you! Roahen covers the muffaletta, as well as some lesser known traditions, like that of the truly New Orleans invention called yaka mein. If you're interested in learning more about the food traditions of New Orleans, I recommend asking every New Orleanian you can get your hands on about what they know about it. Once you're done with that, and it's the year 3099...just kidding! You can also consult the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, and their have a great link to search a food-related collection at the New Orleans Public Library. Also, check out this amazing oral history project from the Southern Foodways Alliance: The Lives and Loaves of New Orleans about the living history of New Orleans's diverse bread-baking families of Vietnamese, Italian, and German heritage.
Woof, y'all. *tail wag*