Vincent B. LoCoco – Author

A New Orleans Italian Sandwich Creation

Salvatore Lupo was the owner of Central Grocery in New Orleans. He catered to the large Sicilian-American immigrant population who settled in and worked around the French Quarter. Salvatore Lupo is best known as the creator of the muffuletta

Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the Central Grocery’s founder, tells the story of the sandwich’s origin in her 1980 cookbook, Marie’s Melting Pot:

One of the most interesting aspects of my father’s grocery is his unique creation, the muffuletta sandwich.  The muffuletta was created in the early 1900’s when the Farmers’ Market was in the same area as the grocery.  Most of the farmers who sold their produce there were Sicilian.  Everyday they used to come of my father’s grocery for lunch.

They would order some salami, some ham, a piece of cheese, a little olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or round muffuletta bread.  In typical Sicilian fashion, they ate everything separately.  The farmers used to sit on crates or barrels and try to eat while precariously balancing their small trays covered with food on their knees.  My father suggested that it would be easier for the farmers if he cut the bread and put everything on it like a sandwich; even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion.  He experimented and found that the ticker, braided Italian bread was too hard to bite but the softer round muffuletta was ideal for his sandwich.  In very little time, the farmers came to merely ask for a “muffuletta” for their lunch.

For a city known for its food, it’s only fitting that for Sicilian-Americans, New Orleans is home to one of their most iconic sandwiches.

Chip LoCoco

New Orleans Author