In New Orleans, the muffuletta is a sandwich that's made on a round, disc-like sesame bread filled with cured meats, marinated olives, and pickled vegetables. Though you can buy mufffulettas at any number of places in the city, it all began at Central Grocery in the French Quarter, where it came about as a way for Sicilians to combine the separate ingredients of their meal.
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Say it with me now: The Central Grocery muffuletta. Luckily, it wasn't a Monday. J. Alfred Prufrock may have measured out his life in coffee spoons—mine could be described as a timeline of muffulettas.
From May 22 to May 31, I traveled across country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, California. Here's a snippet from that week. Left: Frank's, the muffuletta imposter. Right: Central Grocery's original muffuletta, the superior of the two, even if they look eerily similar here. Nobody warned me to avoid New Orleans on a Monday. So after miles of building up the city's sandwich staple, the muffuletta, only to find the mother source Central Grocery closed on Mondays, I felt cheated. Granted, it was Memorial Day Monday, but that didn't matter. Central Grocery is always closed on Mondays. Outside the shop, a herd of us victims huddled, as if awaiting an aproned man with the golden key from inside who...