One of America’s Favorites – Po’ boy

July 9, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Posted in Food | Leave a comment
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A po’ boy (also po-boy, po boy, or poor boy) is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat, usually roast beef, or fried seafood. The meat is served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy

Shrimp po’ boy

center.

A key ingredient that differentiates po’ boys from other submarine sandwiches is the bread. Typically, the French bread comes in two-foot-long “sticks”. Standard sandwich sizes might be a half po’ boy, about six inches long (called a “Shorty”) and a full po’ boy, at about a foot long. The traditional versions are served hot and include fried shrimp, and oysters. Soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, fried chicken breast, roast beef, and French fries are other common variations. The last two are served with gravy.
A “dressed” po’ boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise; onions are optional. Non-seafood po’ boys will also usually have mustard; the customer is expected to specify “hot” or “regular”—the former being a coarse-grained Creole mustard and the latter being American yellow mustard.
The New Orleans roast beef po’ boy is generally served hot with gravy and resembles a Chicago Italian beef sandwich in appearance and method of preparation, although the size, bread, and toppings differ. To make it, a cut of beef (usually chuck or shoulder) is typically simmered in beef stock with seasonings such as garlic, pepper, thyme, and bay for several hours. The beef can be processed into “debris” by cutting it to shreds when done (folklore says that a po’ boy roast is done when it “falls apart with a hard stare”) and simmering the shredded beef in the pot for a longer time to absorb more of the juice and seasoning.
The sandwich was featured on the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like.

In the late 1800s fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans and San Francisco as “oyster loaves”, a term still in use. The sandwich was alternately called a “peacemaker” or “La Mediatrice”.
There are countless stories as to the origin of the term po’ boy. The more popular theory claims that “po’ boy” was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, LA), former streetcar conductors. In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches. The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to “po’ boy.”

New Orleans is known for its grand restaurants, but more humble fare like the po’boy is very popular. Po’ boys may be made at home, sold pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at deli counters and most neighborhood restaurants. One of the most basic New Orleans restaurants is the po’ boy shop, and these shops often offer other dishes like red beans and rice and jambalaya. Many New Orleans neighborhood restaurants are in this mold offering po’ boys, seafood platters, and a number of basic Creole dishes: Tracie’s, Parkway Bakery, Maspero’s, Liuzza’s, Acme’s, Domilise’s, Parasol’s, Frankie and Johnnie’s, and Casamento’s.
In 1896, George Leidenheimer founded his bakery, Leidenheimer Baking Company, on Dryades Street. In 1904, the bakery moved to Simon Bolivar Avenue where the family business still operates, and is one of the primary sources of po’boy bread. There is fierce competition between po’boy shops, and resident opinions of the best po’boy shop varies widely.
Each year there is a festival in New Orleans dedicated to the po’boy, The Oak Street Po’Boy Festival. It is a one day festival that features live music, arts, and food vendors with multiple types of po’ boys. It is held in mid-November along a commercial strip of Oak Street in the city’s Carrollton neighborhood. The festival gives away “best-of” awards, which gives the chefs incentive to invent some of the most creative po’ boys.

Authentic versions of Louisiana style po’ boys can be found along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast—from Houston through the Florida panhandle. The term “po’ boy” has spread further and can be found on the Southeastern seaboard and in California, but may refer to variations on the local submarine sandwich.
In New Orleans a “Vietnamese Po’ boy” is another name for a Bánh mì sandwich. This variation can be found throughout the city owing to the influence of Vietnamese immigrants, who brought with them Vietnamese-French bakeries.

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