Po-Boy's / Birthday
Today was my 26th birthday. Colin and I celebrated by having a wine and cheese party last night and sleeping late this morning. After we finally got up we walked a few blocks down the street from where we live to attend New Orleans first annual Po-boy festival.
Poster advertising the Po-boy festival.In case you do not know, a Po-boy is a type of sandwich unique to New Orleans. The sandwich is akin to a Hoagie or a submarine sandwich, but on special Louisiana style french bread. ( This is lighter and flakier version of a baguette. Wikipedia speculates that this may be due to warmer temperatures and higher humidity in New Orleans affecting the traditional outcome of the baguette recipe, causing the loaf to be less firm and crusty.) Like other sandwiches, it contains a meat filling, traditional innards include roast beef, fried shrimp, fried clams, fried crab, or boiled shrimp. Then the sandwich is 'dressed' with lettuce, mayonnaise or butter, sometimes mustard and sometimes tomatoes. The photo of a fried shrimp Po-boy below gives some idea of the finished product.
Giant loaves of Po-boy bread used at the festival.
A dressed Po-boy.
A dressed Po-boy.
Several theories exist to explain the creation of this local sandwich. Oyster loaves, made of french bread and local fried or cooked oysters, are found in American cookbooks from 1838 on. In fact the "Peacemaker" or "La Mediatrice" was an oyster loaf brought back by a Creole husband to his wife when he had been out late the night before. The most widely accepted story of the creation of the Po-boy involves two brothers, Clovis and Benjamin Martin, who ran a coffee stand and restaurant on St. Charles Ave. The brothers were former street car operators, and when the streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, they offered to feed them free of charge until the strike was over. (the 1929 streetcar strike was one of the most violent transportation strikes in American history. Streetcar tracks were torn up and cars derailed, and when strike breakers were brought to New Orleans from New York, riots broke out. The citizens of New Orleans were strongly in support of the strikers, and threw rocks at and even burned railway cars driven by the strike breakers). The inexpensive, but filling sandwiches that the Martin brothers provided to the "poor boys" who ran the rail cars were the ancestors of today's Po-boy.
Streetcars damaged in the strike. Note broken windows.
Th Po-boy festival featured music, art and of course, sandwiches. There was also a fairly impromptu Jazz parade, which was totally awesome. We had a wonderful time and ate some really, really, tasty Po-boys.
sculpture of a man eating a Po-boy. Leader of the Jazz parade.