New Orleans’ Favourite Sandwich

The state of Mississippi gained its name from the great river that flows through it, but this waterway influenced and shaped the cultures of many different places. One of them is Louisiana, with its crown jewel of New Orleans, a city of retch history and significance.

New Orleans may be known for its grand restaurants and fine Creole cuisine, but if you’re looking for something a bit lower key but still full of flavour you need to try out the po’ boy sandwich. This Louisiana favourite is usually made using meat, something like roast beef or fried seafood such as shrimp, crawfish, crab or oysters, which is packed into a New Orleans French bread that can size up to 15 or even 20 inches. There’s often sauce added, gravy or mustard for meats and Louisiana hot sauce is always an option. Pickles and melted butter are pretty much a default when it comes to the seafood filling. And of course, a nice bit of greenery is added for crunch.

Nobody is sure how the sandwich earned the name po’ boy but there’s a popular theory that’s become a sort of legend that surrounds it. Supposedly the name was first used by two brothers named Benny and Clovis Martin who owned a restaurant in New Orleans. They were former streetcar (tram) conductors. In 1929, for a four-month period, the city’s streetcar drivers went on strike and so to support their old colleagues the Martin brothers served them free sandwiches for the duration. Supposedly strikers were jokingly referred to as poor boys by the restaurants staff, which in the Louisiana dialect would be pronounced po’ boy; eventually this lead to the sandwich earning the same name.

Whether it’s true or not, the sandwich can be found all over New Orleans. One the most highly regarded distributers of this staple dish is the Parkway Bakery & Tavern. This eatery has been existing for over 100 years, originally opened by the German baker Charles Goering, Sr. in 1911 as a bake shop. In 1929 he began producing the recently invented po’ boy to feed the local workers of the American Can Company and it’s been on the menu ever since. People from all over visit, including the former President Barrack Obama who likes to grab a fried shrimp po’ boy whenever he’s in town. You can’t get a much better endorsement than that.

If you really want to experience the po’ boy in all its glory, you want to catch the Oak Street Po’ Boy Fest. Every year in November you can visit this festival in New Orleans where local restaurants create over sixty different variations of the sandwich. Awards are given out to give chefs an incentive to make the most creative po’boy possible so you’re sure to find some truly inventive combos.  The festival also hosts a wide variety of live music and arts so it’s always a great day out no matter what your tastes are.

It may not be the most extravagant of dishes but there is a reason the po’ boy sandwich is still around today. If you’re looking for something simple but delicious there is no doubt a po’ boy for you, whether you’re around for the fun filled festival or just simply want to visit an eatery and sample the dish you certainly won’t be disappointed.