Po Boys

In the sprawling American family of overstuffed sandwiches on lengths of horizontally sliced bread, the po’ boy boasts the most diverse variations. It can be roast beef or catfish, a cheeseburger or peppered wiener, ham and cheese or fried oysters paired with roast beef gravy debris. When ordering a po’ boy of any configuration, eaters are asked if they want it dressed. That adds lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and, usually, pickles. Those made with sausage pose the question: regular mustard or Creole mustard? Aside from its plethora of ingredients, the po’ boy’s distinguishing feature is the bread on which it’s made – about 1/3 lighter that a typical northeast sub loaf, and with a crisp, elegant crust. A majority of New Orleans po’ boy makers use loaves from Leidenheimer Bakery, which has been around since the late 19th century. An Acadian variation of the po’ boy is called a pirogue, named after the shallow-bottom bayou canoe; and an obsolete nickname is la mediatrice, meaning peace-maker, supposedly because it was a sandwich wayward husbands brought home to appease an angry wife. Why “po’ boy”? One account says the sandwich originated when it was offered by a French Quarter restaurateur to streetcar workers (poor boys) during a 1929 labor strike. Another story is that the original po’ boys were simply lengths of bread sopped with gravy, hence affordable by poor boys.

Restaurants With This Dish

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