Hello again, my CLDA and Industry colleagues,
It’s getting close! We have now flipped the page from 2022 to 2023. That means we will be together at our Final Mile Forum here in New Orleans in about a month. And that means if you haven’t registered yet, time is running out. But it also means that you might want to start thinking about something that is definitely part of our CRESCENT CITY CULTURE and something New Orleans is known for – great food! And great food in NOLA isn’t just where you will see a white tablecloth. Some of the best food can be found where elbows on the table are allowed – our sandwich shops. Get hungry, my friends.
Hoagie, Hero, Sub. We all know the names of sandwiches served on a “submarine” or “tubular” shaped bread roll stuffed with cold cuts and cheese. However, when you venture down to Bayou Country, one name reigns supreme when it comes to the sandwich of choice…. THE PO-BOY!
Upon your descent into the Big Easy next month, and as you walk around the French Quarter, you will notice places where the glow of neon announces the sandwich as if it was a Marquee promoting the hottest Jazz Band in town. This hand carriable meal of French Bread stuffed with your favorite meat or seafood is served in varying lengths, usually from 6 inches to a feast size of 15 inches. Although, I would argue that trying to “carry” a Roast Beef Po-boy (the most popular and arguably the first) is extremely difficult. For that, you must be stationary and have plenty of napkins while preparing for your gravy bath.
The “POOR BOY” sandwich has a long history in New Orleans. Today’s modern version hasn’t changed much since the original Poor Boy sandwich was introduced many years ago. I say “many” years ago as opposed to “X number” of years ago because there is a bit of controversy as to when and from whom the term Poor Boy originated.
It has been written that as early as 1910, references to the Poor Boy Sandwich were made. Jazz great Sidney Bechet referred to the sandwich when he had recently hired an unknown cornet player named Louis Armstrong. After paying Armstrong and the other members of the band 50 cents for their gig, he said they went out and got a beer and a “Poor Boy” sandwich with their earnings. Bechet made this reference several years later as he reflected on those times in the early 1900s. Some believe that he learned of the Poor Boy name later on and just made reference to it at this point in his life.
The most accepted version of the origin of the name came around 1929. Bennie and Clovis Martin, who were Street Car Conductors originally (Yes, there are Street Cars in New Orleans, not Cable Cars or Trollies), opened a small coffee shop and Restaurant in the French Quarter in 1922. When their street car brothers went on strike in 1929, they vowed to ensure they would be fed. “We fed those men free of charge until the strike ended. Whenever we saw one of the striking men coming, we would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.”
Growing up, I also was told that the original Poor Boy sandwich was a roast beef “debris” sandwich. My version of the story points out that the Martin Brothers would offer the men a large piece of French Bread. After slicing lengthwise to open it up, they would ladle the gravy onto both sides with just the “debris” of the cooked roast beef included. This was a “cheap” or “poor” version of a sandwich, but because of the bread and its size, it was quite filling. Today, the “Po-boy” is prepared with anything you can think of.
The name and where it originated might still have some uncertainty. And one person’s version will differ from another, as this 2016 article point outs. But, no matter how, when, or who gets the naming credit, one thing for sure is that the Po-Boy is an ingrained part of our CRESCENT CITY CULTURE!
Since most of our FMF attendees will be spending time downtown, here are some great places to get a good Po-Boy in or near the French Quarter.
Killer Po-Boys http://www.killerpoboys.com/
Johnny’s Po-Boys 511 St Louis NOLA 70130 (no website)
Mahony’s (two locations) https://mahonyspoboys.com/
Another place that had some good Po-Boys back in the day was Mothers. Still good but has gotten to be a little touristy. I think you would still enjoy it and be a little closer to the FMF hotel. https://www.mothersrestaurant.net/
For those who want to venture outside of the French Quarter, here are my two favorite places in the city for Po-Boys:
Parkway Bakery – Mid City New Orleans – Get the Roast Beef. https://parkwaypoorboys.com/
Domilise’s – Uptown New Orleans – you can’t get any more “neighborhood” than this. http://www.domilisespoboys.com/
Can’t wait to see you next month!