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The History of Muffuletta Sandwiches

Muffuletta sandwiches have been a New Orleans staple for nearly a century, but did you know that the origins of the sandwich are actually Italian, not French? The sandwich was reportedly created in 1906 by a Sicilian immigrant named Salvatore Lupo, who owned Central Grocery Co. on Decatur Street. According to a cookbook written by his daughter, Marie Lupo Tusa, the men who worked at the nearby wharves and produce stalls would come to the shop to order lunch. They typically requested salami, ham, a piece of cheese, a little olive salad, and either long, braided Italian bread or round muffuletta bread. In true Sicilian style, the men would attempt to eat each element separately, which was difficult to do while balancing everything on their trays and sitting precariously on whatever barrels or crates they could find. Salvatore suggested that although it wouldn’t be strictly true to the Sicilian style of eating, it might be easier for the men if he cut the bread and layered the ingredients inside like a sandwich. He experimented and found that soft, round muffuletta bread worked perfectly when sliced and layered with the ingredients that the men always requested. Soon, the workers were asking for a “muffuletta” for lunch and the iconic sandwich was born! Today, muffulettas are incredibly popular in New Orleans and can be found all over the city, and the original home of the sandwich, Central Grocery Co, also still sells them! The sandwiches are popular with tourists and locals alike, especially during Mardi Gras, and variations of the muffuletta can also be found in other parts of the country.

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