I knew as soon as I made it to New Orleans one of the first stops I wanted to make was the Central Grocery Company on Decatur Street in the French Quarter – you know, the home of the original muffuletta sandwich. I’ve talked about before how the muffuletta was one of the single greatest things I’ve ever had the previous time I was in New Orleans back in late 2008. Ever since that one Wednesday afternoon, when I had that one sandwich I never heard of before, I was hooked. Hooked so much it’s what started me on learning everything I could on New Orleans cooking.
I could see the store up ahead. The sign hung outside the entrance. The building was red. To me, at that point, every other building was a bland blah color and Central Grocery glowed bright red. My beacon.
Inside, at first it was like a maze to the counters. You pass through the grocery items that would make an authentic Italian dish authentic. I’m sure in it’s over one hundred year history, not much has changed. In the back are a handful of tables and chairs. It was packed with people, each biting into a muffuletta or grabbing a Zapps Chip, another local food to New Orleans and I’ve yet to find here in the Detroit area.
As I was debating what to buy, I quick scanned a shelf. In it, was one of the few cookbooks that I purchased while in New Orleans, it was MARIE’S MELTING POT – SICILIAN STYLE COOKING by Marie Lupo Tusa, the daughter of the founder of Central Grocery, Salvatore Lupo. The books a has a mix of family recipes and recipes from her years of cooking along with the history of the muffuletta. I was surprised to find the book, I had read before it was out of print, and it was published first in 1980. But like I said, I’m sure not much has changed. For $11 it was a steal and a complete surprise for me to find. But remember, the history of…
I bought my book, along with a handful of Zapps Chips and of course two muffulettas. Two! Two can feed about eight people. There were four of us on the trip. I ate a half of one. Everyone else ate a quarter. Then I had the leftovers. I had a refrigerator in the hotel – I planned ahead!
As I sat in the hotel room. I had New Orleans out my window and a muffuletta in my hands. The bite…
Since my trip in 2008 I love the muffuletta. I’ve researched it. I’ve learned the history. I’ve tried and tried to make my version of it that I love. All the stories tell of Central Grocery and who all others strive to reach theirs. For all those years it’s built up. I’ve always said it’s the first thing I do. It’s been built up and built up now. So when I chomped down on that first bite…
I was waiting for the let down… I’m telling you, if you like the olive salad and muffuletta, travel to New Orleans, stop at Central Grocery and buy a muffuletta. It’s was even greater than what I was expecting. How this sandwich isn’t so popular is beyond me. It was worth every penny, it was worth the trip, and it was worth the wait.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED AT THE OLIVE AISLE AT THE STORE
Two weeks before our trip to New Orleans I was strolling through Krogers. I just happened to stop at the olives. I knew Central Grocery was a few weeks coming, maybe I was just preparing. As I scanned the jars upon jars one suddenly stood out – it was a jar of Boscoli Family New Orleans made Olive Salad. Now I’m in Michigan. Just north of Detroit. I’ve been making my olive salad mix by hand for years now. Weeks before heading down to New Orleans I find it in a jar? I bought.
I wondered who the Boscoli Family was. On their website they are “a manufacturer of fine Italian, gourmet foods. Boscoli Foods, Inc. was established in 1992 and is located in the greater New Orleans, Louisiana area, the heart of our world-famous New Orleans Creole/Italian cuisine. Our products are created from time-honored, Old World recipes handed down through generations of Italian families.” Along with buying products, they offer recipes. It worth checking out the website.
If you want a quick olive salad, or you don’t like making a batch, this is perfect. A great olive salad. I can taste the flavor difference in mine to theirs but it wasn’t bad or anything. Mine is a bite spicier. So as we prepared for our trip for New Orleans, I broke open the jar of Boscoli Family olive salad. I had the meats and cheeses and hamburger buns. It became muffuletta sliders!
- 1 jar of Boscoli Olive Salad or a homemade version
- hard salami
- hot capicola
- swiss cheese
- hamburger buns
Spread the olive oil juice from the jar or container on both sides of the bun. On the bottom bun, place the salami, then ham, add the cheese, then top with the hot capicola or salami. Top with as much of the olive salad you want on each sandwich. Enjoy!
You would think, a slider, you could polish off a few of them, one sandwich may do the trick here though. This is a cheaper version of the muffuletta. You don’t need the full amounts of meats and cheeses or the Italian bread. If you have leftover olive salad and different lunch meats, this is a great way to finish off the perishable foods and it’s also a great way to have somebody sample what a muffuletta is.
I love my olive salad. I like the Boscoli Olive Salad. But nothing compares to being at Central Grocery and eating one of their muffulettas!