Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Orleans fare: the subway sandwich

During my five-day training in New Orleans in September, I got introduced to two submarine sandwiches originating in the United States. Karen and Jeanne, my teachers in the laboratory, made sure that I tried these subs while I was there. The third one happens to be my go-to food when I don't know what else to eat. Before this trip, I thought that the submarine sandwich came only from Subway, the restaurant. Now I know better. :)

Hello, po' boy: While munching on my po' boy one lunch break, I just had to ask why the sandwich was called a po' boy. According to my teachers, the po' boy used to be what "poor boys" had to eat in the old days. However, the po' boy has gained quite an acceptance that its target market is no longer limited to the poor boys. Just as an illustration, Zimmer's Seafood in the Gentilly neighborhood had a long queue both at the ordering and the pick-up counters. And there's no sitting area inside or outside the venue -- no tables, or chairs; the establishment is more of a take-away counter.

Inside the po' boy: I got a 1/2 "half-dressed" turkey po' boy. Karen calls it half-dressed because it has all the good stuff inside (tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce) but for the mayonnaise. All that yummy goodness surrounded by a baguette that's crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.

A tongue twister: \Moo-foo-let-tah\. That's how I pronounced it when I first talked about my third submarine sandwich. Hey, that's the way it's spelled! But my pronunciation was corrected right away. Apparently, there are many ways locals pronounce it: \ muf-uh-luh-duh\ was one and \muf-uh-LOT-uh\ was another; there are other variations. One thing's for sure: the spelling, and the many pronunciations, indicate that the French were not the only influence to New Orleans cuisine. The Italians were in New Orleans too.

Inside the Muffuletta: Karen brought one on my last day in her laboratory. It's a sandwich that I had to try, she said, particularly because of the olive salad inside. The mention of olives in a salad in a sandwich got me interested. :) The loaf reminded me of croissants. But the comparison stopped there. I likened the muffuletta to a folded pizza slice but without the tomato paste: cheeses, slices of different types of meats (sausages, ham, pepperoni...), and that infamous olive salad. Karen was right, that salad was so good! It made the muffuletta different from other sandwiches. Now, I wonder if I could make that olive salad back home or if I can buy one ready made in the grocery...

Subway sandwich
The 6-inch turkey sub (with jalapenos, olives, and other veggies, cheese, and some sauce) meal was my staple for lunch and dinner on the home run stretch leading towards my thesis submission in 2008. Afterwards, I rarely ate at Subway since there's no branch close to my house; but if I pass by a branch and I'm not in the mood to try a restaurant I haven't encountered before, I eat there.

When I finally settled into Rose Manor Inn, I found out that a few minutes' walk from there is a Subway branch! It's the only food brand I recognized among the stores on that block (well, there's Walgreen's, but it's more of a grocery than a restaurant), so that's where I got my first dinner: the turkey sub (as usual). Because the sub was so huge, I had to split it into two and made two meals out of it.

Yup, I had three types of sub sandwiches in five days. Did I miss eating rice, like what happened in 2006? This time, I can honestly say that I didn't miss eating rice because I had been taste testing different types of rice all day. The sandwiches actually gave some variety at meal times. I don't think I'll make the switch and become a sandwich eater anytime soon though.