Sunday, June 21, 2009

Po' Boys for a Po' Boy - An Ongoing Saga

I decided last week to study that quintessentially New Orleans sandwich: The Po' Boy. For three days, my lunch date was with crusty french bread and cholesterol, but I couldn't do it for day 4 and 5 as I had planned. Those will have to wait, so I'll add more to this post as time goes by. I have to pen my thoughts before my memory clouds.

1st Po' Boy: A catered work lunch. The sandwich consisted of breaded, fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and hot sauce. The hot sauce tasted like Red Hot, but was probably the 'on-every-table' in this town Crystal. I loved it with hot sauce, but the bread was not crusty, and this made for a poor sandwich. The lettuce and tomato - with mayo this is known as "dressed" in Po' Boy country - was weak. But it was free lunch, so what can you expect?

2nd Po' Boy: I was on Bourbon, so I stopped at the first shop I saw knowing full well that I was going to get bad, tourist-trap fare. I believe in calibration, which is why after two straight weeks of eating Tex-Mex in the Southwest, my next stop was Taco Bell.

My guess was right.

The place was Court Tavern Po-Boys. I had roast beef (with gravy, and dressed, obviously). They used standard lunch meat roast beef. The bread was much better than my 1st po' boy. But the gravy was flavorless, and considering I was eating bread soaked in it and mayo, the trade-off for the heart condition did not seem worth it. On a sidenote, the red beans 'n rice were GREAT, the best I've had yet in town, even though the sausage was on the cheap end. So there's something.

3rdPo' Boy: Now this is where things start to get good. I upgraded my standards, and visited Lil' Dizzy's Cafe at their Poydras location. I arrived before the lunch rush, but my order still took 30 minutes (not good). I went with roast beef and gravy, dressed, again, but this time with more success. The beef was from an actual roast, not the pre-sliced, nitrate-filled variety at a cheap shop. This had the texture and feel of homecooked pot roast, was topped with delicious gravy, on great bread, and was beginning to be what I expected from a good Po' Boy. And the sandwich was big enough that I had only half at lunch, and the second half was enough for dinner. Now that makes a Po' Boy feel not so Po'.

Alt spellings of Po' Boy uncovered so far: Poor Boy (the refined version?); Po-boy; PoBoy;

I'm learning toward instituting a politically correct nomenclature: "Working Class Person's Provision."

More to come when I return to NOLA - this week I'm back in my hometown, where my food love began. The home of goetta, chili with spaghetti (please?), and Graeter's: Cincinnati.

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