Southern exposure

By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  July 21, 2010

One more ethnic influence we experienced comes from New Orleans by way of Sicily. In the early 20th century, the owner of the Central Market in NO noticed that Sicilian immigrants bought cold cuts, cheese, and olives to eat with loaves of soft round bread (its name a variation of “muffuletta”). He suggested a sandwich made of those ingredients, and the muffuletta sandwich was born! Fertitta’s Deli and Monjunis Italian Café & Grocery in Shreveport vie for loyal customers, and since the former was closed (on Saturday!), we ended up at the latter.

Monjunis is a Louisiana “chain,” with a half-dozen locations, beloved by college students looking for great meatballs and red sauce (a slightly sweet variation; it’s the South, after all). Muffulettas can be ordered in as a half or a quarter, and there’s even a vegetarian version with eggplant, artichokes, and cheese. Warmed in the oven, stuffed to the hilt, slathered with their homemade olive spread, these sandwiches were outstanding.

Johnette Rodriguez can be reached atjohnette.rodriguez@cox.net.

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