If you’d like to have some food for Mardi Gras, the muffaletta (also spelled muffuletta) sandwich, a New Orleans classic, is great for two or for a crowd! If you’re not celebrating Mardi Gras, April 23rd is National Picnic Day, National Hoagie Day is May 5th, November 3rd is National Sandwich Day…and any day is a good day for a sandwich. Thanks to Chabaso Bakery in New Haven for the recipe. The history of the muffaletta sandwich is below.
> The history of sandwiches.
1. MIX the olive salad ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar as desired.
2. SCOOP out some of the dough inside the bread if it’s especially thick. Lay the bread slices down face up on a cutting board. Spoon the olive salad on both the top and bottom halves.
3. LAYER the meats and cheeses on the bottom half, then join with the top half. Cut into quarters.
4. SERVE immediately, or for even better flavor, wrap in plastic and allow the bread to soak up juices for one hour before serving.
Across Europe, particularly in France and Italy, For hundreds of years, the tradition of Mardi Gras (French), a.k.a. Martedi Grasso (Italian), and in the U.S. and England, Carnival, Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, is a festive prelude to Lenten fasting.
The celebration of food, parades, and revelry originated as the last night when it was possible to eat rich, fatty foods before giving them for the next 40 days of Lent. In fact, the very word carnival comes from the Latin “Carne vale”, meaning “flesh, farewell.”
While in the 1540s the word meant, in a figurative sense, “a time of merrymaking before Lent,” by the 1590s it had evolved to mean feasting or revelry in general [source].
In the U.S., the Mardi Gras festival is largely limited to New Orleans, where the French Quarter has been home to a large Mardi Gras parade since the 1800s. The King Cake and other foods became part of the festivities.
The Muffuletta sandwich was also born in the French Quarter, although not specifically for Mardi Gras. However, this New Orleans classic is usually part of any Mardi Gras party.
The sandwich was invented at one of the city’s oldest markets, the Central Grocery, founded in 1906.
Sicilian immigrants working at the nearby farmer’s market would buy salami, ham, mortadella, Swiss/Emmental cheese, provolone cheese, olive salad, and muffuletta bread (a soft, round, flat Sicilian sesame loaf). They would eat them as separate components, not dissimilar to an antipasto.
The owner of the grocery store suggested they slice the bread and combine all of the components into a sandwich.
Thus, the muffuletta sandwich was born [source].
The muffaletta sandwich has ingredients similar to an Italian hero, but on a different type of bread.
The Central Market sells both its muffaletta sandwich and separate jars of olive salad on Goldbelly. The ingredients include black and green olives, carrots, cauliflower, celery, peppers, and pistachios. It is marinated in olive oil, cottonseed/canola oil, and seasonings: garlic, salt, vinegar, and “secret spices.”