O.K., here's the big one. Does anyone know for absolutely sure where the term, "muffaletta", came from? What does it mean in Italian? It is not in any of the many Italian dictionaries I've looked at and when I've been at the Central Grocery, I've never thought to ask. My guess is that is an Italian dialect term. There's an Italian word, "muffala", which is a mitt or something you stick your hands in to keep them warm in the winter. Could be that the sandwich is the same shape?
moof-fuh-LEHT-tuh A specialty of New Orleans, this hero-style sandwich originated in 1906 at the Central Grocery, which many think still makes the best muffuletta in Louisiana. The sandwich consists of a round loaf of crusty Italian bread, split and filled with layers of sliced PROVOLONE, Genoa SALAMI and ham topped with "olive salad," a chopped mixture of green, unstuffed olives, PIMIENTOS, celery, garlic, cocktail onions, CAPERS, oregano, parsley, olive oil, red-wine vinegar, salt and pepper. The olive salad is what sets the muffuletta apart from any other sandwich of its ilk.
A couple of years ago I was in Sicily at Easter Time. On Easter Sunday we visitied a town in the hills near Palermo named (I think) Piano de Albanese. It has been an "Albanian" town for a few hundred years. We wandered into a very old and rustic looking bakery on a side street in the center of town, which was busy baking a round loaf of bread that they called a muffaletta!! It was crustier and richer than the loaf used at the Central Grocery. Other than confirming the name of the bread, I didn't get more information as I don't speak Italian (or Albanian). Didn't see this bread being made anywhere else on our three week Italian visit, but it certainly could have been elsewhere in Sicily. This little bakery didn't make much else, but was also busy baking home made items (roasts, casseroles, etc.) brought in by the women of the town.
Hey hounds, when you buy Central Grocery's bottled Olive Mix you'd better put that baby right in the refrigerator whether you've opened it or not!
We made the mistake of storing that sucker, unopened, in the closet and it got rancid! And, at $11.00 a pop, that was as unpleasant as the aftertaste we experienced for days from their rancid vegetable oil.
If they had used olive oil, that would not have happened, but they don't.
Those "good old Nawlins boys" should have the brains to date their bottles for freshness! Hopefully, one of you Hounds, next time you go there, will tell them that.