By Paul Suplee,
MBA, CEC, PC-3
Oh, to wake up on Frenchmen Street, a lingering hangover evidence of another successful night in the Big Easy.
It has been two-and-a-half years since I have visited New Orleans, and it saddens me thinking about that much time between my short retreats to the town that makes no sense to most, but which makes all the sense in the world to me.
I have traveled more than my fair share to the mighty town on the Mississippi, but I can’t get enough of the food, music, culture, the thrill of voodoo shops, the back-alley music halls known mostly to the locals and not advertised (yet they’re still packed to the walls).
There is an air of magic, mystery and tragedy that surrounds so much of the city, and that speaks to me.
A few trips ago, I was with old Marine brothers at a reunion. As we are obviously aging, we (as a group) weren’t doing anything too wild. Around 9 p.m., we sat on the curb across the street from the Balcony Music Club and watched the inimitable Ed Wills play a few sets.
The man rivals any blues guitarist out there, and we were mesmerized. However, and again noting that we are getting old, the rally cry was yelled by others in our party; “it’s 10:00! It’s time to go back to the hotel and take our meds!”
It was a matter of seconds before the wagons circled and everyone went back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep; everyone but me and my good friend Chad. Continuing to watch Mr. Wells wail on the guitar for a few more songs, we then fled east to Frenchmen Street and found some other bars.
We saw band after band play, never missing a note, and stayed up cavorting until 7:30 in the morning.
Then, with great confidence, I went to the front desk and told the attendant that I was Richard Smith in 504 and I lost my wallet and my room key.
She promptly gave me a replacement (it helps to look innocent) and Chad and I went to our buddy Smitty’s room and scared him out of a deep sleep.
That’s about the kindest way that I can put that. We thought it was the funniest thing we had ever done, but Mr. Smith was not too pleased with our behavior. He sent us to our rooms.
Upon waking up three hours later, we hit Bourbon Street and I stopped dead in my tracks as we came upon the Central Grocery. Home to the famed muffuletta sandwich, we waited in line and got our monstrosity of a meal and went on our way.
But it wasn’t before an old man came up to me, as I was wearing my Loyola College T-shirt (my alma mater).
“Did you go to Loyola?”
“Yes sir, I did” I responded with a half-cocked and hungover smile.
“Well, Ignatius of Loyola was an a##hole!” he yelled loudly enough that every person in the shop stopped and stared. You could hear a pin drop.
And that, folks, is New Orleans, and exactly why I can’t wait to go back.
1 large bread boule
4 oz. Prosciutto
4 oz. Mortadella
4 oz. Genoa salami
4 oz. Capicola
4 slices provolone
4 slices mozzarella
1 c. Olive relish (recipe follows)
- Slice the bread in half to make a top and bottom
- Carefully tear out some of the crumb (the white part) to make room
- Line the top and bottom with the olive relish
- Shingle the provolone on the bottom and the mozzarella on the top
- Pull the meats apart and fold them individually on the sandwich. If you just plop them down, stuck together, it’s reminiscent of a midnight fridge raid, just shoveling deli meats down your pie hole.
- Carefully rejoin the top and bottom to create your glorious masterpiece.
- Slice in half and serve with pepperoncini.
makes about a quart
2 c. Green olives, stuffed with pimientos
2 c. Pickled Italian veggies OR
Quick pickled vegetables (recipe follows)
Red vinegar, as needed
3 Tbsp. Coarse stone mustard
- Place the first three ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a coarse relish, akin to a tapenade.
- Adjust flavors with the last three.
Quick Pickled Vegetables
makes about a quart
1 c. Cauliflower
1 c. Cut green beans
2 ribs celery, cut into 3” pieces
1 Onion, cut into eighths
1 carrot, cut into sticks
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground cloves
1 tsp. Salt
1 c. Red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Dill
- This is a cheater method, so if you don’t have a vacuum chamber (not a food saver), simply boil the vinegar with spices, cover the vegetables and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
- Assuming that you are cool enough to have a vacuum chamber, place all ingredients in a vacuum bag and mix well.
- Vacuum for 25 seconds and seal
- Let the vegetables sit for at least one hour, and then they are ready to go. They will not have the fully developed flavor of a pickle that has sat for months at room temperature with cheesecloth on top in your grandma’s basement, but they will work just fine in a pinch.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts at
Wor-Wic Community College and owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.