How long does it take to consume a 340 foot long oyster po'boy sandwich? About a minute and a half.
That's what I learned last weekend during the 5th Annual Oysters Jubilee on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Thirty of New Orleans' popular restaurants took part in creating what became the World's Longest Oyster Po'Boy Sandwich, an event that first began in 2007.
The crowds were already forming around nine in the morning as crews began the set-up process. Once the tables went up and the booths were assigned, chefs took turns out-doing each others' sandwiches.
Chef Glen Hogh of Vega Tapas Café pulled out a leg of jamón Ibérico. He offered the crowd a sample—a succulent melt-in-your-mouth morsel of saltiness with that acorn flavor all the way through. "I want my po'boy to stand out," Hogh said. Indeed, it did. He added some tomato marmalade to the finely sliced and crisped ham.
Po' boy toppings ranged from chicken liver pate, remoulade, mushrooms, roast beef debris and assorted cheeses (of course, not all at the same time). After each po'boy was finished, it was put up for auction after, with the proceeds benefiting Friends of the Fishermen.
As the chef's competition continued, the makings of the big po'boy were brought in: more than 150 three foot loaves (!!) of Leidenheimer po'boy bread and 5,500 oysters. The crew from Acme Oyster House had set up a kitchen in the courtyard of Café Beignet, breading and deep-frying and draining batch after batch of oysters. Not all of them came from Louisiana—some were from other Gulf states, but you could tell the Louisiana ones because they were smaller and packed a bigger punch.
At this point, the crowd lined up on Bourbon Street was getting feisty for a bite. After the official ceremony with the mayor, it was time. We finally had permission to eat 340 feet of po' boy. Hundreds of hands darted to the tables, grabbing sandwich sections. I expected a mad crazy rush—and it was, but an orderly one. Everyone allowed each other a nibble.
And then it was over. About a minute and a half from start to finish, with only some scattered crumbs left to show for it.
What do you do after eating the world's longest po' boy? Listen to the Storyville Stompers play New Orleans jazz all the way to Royal Street, which drew an almost equally po-boy-long crowd.