If you go to New Orleans on a diet, you’ll miss the best part of the city: the food! And what could be more quintessential in the French Quarter than a genuine Sicilian muffuletta from Central Grocery?
This tiny, squeezed-in place at 923 Decatur Street opened in 1906 by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo who continued to operate it until 1946 when he passed it along to his son-in-law Salvatore Tusa. The sandwich, (well, this is what we’ve gathered from internet sources), was invented to feed Italian and Sicilian truck drivers delivering produce to the French Market. They needed something they could hold. So, Salvatore piled all the ingredients — cured meats (like mortadella, salami, and ham), cheeses (mozzarella and provolone), and olive spread — into a whole sesame-covered bun. By wrapping the muffulettas in paper, they became portable lunches, if you will. And you, too, can get the same treatment any day at lunchtime.
The store itself is definitely worth a tour whether you belly up to the bar or not. Crowded shelves hold all you could ever imagine in a Sicilian/Italian deli. Like cans of olive oil . . .
and bottles of hot sauce . . .
and our favorite Creole seasoning that we always bring back home — Slap Ya Mama!
You place an order and pay the cashier.
And notice how the folks at Central Grocery still honor the founders that made the place so famous.
Then you plop down at this simple bar where hundreds before you have left their mark.
One lady noticed that I was taking pictures, and she said, You can take a picture of me eating a muffuletta. I don’t mind. It’s my favorite thing here! Or if you’re visiting and love the outdoors, you can grab a muffuletta for lunch and head for the levee.
Wanna make this at home? Then don’t leave without a jar of the homemade, in-house Italian Olive Salad that’ll turn your average ham and cheese into something mindful of Old New Orleans.
Well, we’ve gone inside Central Grocery where Italian and Sicilian fare can’t be beaten. Here’s hoping you get a chance to chomp into one of their muffulettas that’s on every New Orleans tourist’s bucket list. Or should be.
For more sights and scenes from the New Orleans French Quarter, click onto Travel Series: New Orleans in the top bar of this post.
Here’s hoping you’re enjoying the Deep South with us!
–Bert and Rusha
Credits and sources:
Danno. “Central Grocery,” Nola Cuisine (May 24, 2009). Retrieved from http://www.nolacuisine.com/2009/05/24/central-grocery/
Danno. “Muffuletta Sandwich Recipe,” Nola Cuisine (July 17, 2005). Retrieved from http://www.nolacuisine.com/2005/07/17/muffuletta-sandwich-recipe/
“Muffuletta.” Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muffuletta
Image of sandwiches and ordering information: https://www.goldbely.com/central-grocery/15504-original-muffuletta-sandwich-5-pack