Olive Salad

There is no place on earth like New Orleans!  They’ve got it all; music, food, beautiful people and that down home southern hospitality that I’ve only seen rivaled in Thailand.

A few years back (before the hurricane), we sub-leased an apartment in the New Orlean’s Garden District. The apartment was on a quiet, well kept street with friendly, smiling neighbors.  It was a perfect location, a block away from the St. Charles streetcar stop, surrounded by well known cafes, restaurants and nightclubs specializing in blues and jazz.

We arrived on Saturday night and the next morning promptly took the streetcar to a Gospel Brunch I had booked ahead.   The music was wonderful!   The kind of inspirational, hand clapping, foot tapping songs that belong to no denomination and invite everyone to participate.  The brunch buffet was extensive; grits, sausage, bacon, waffles, french toast, scrambled eggs, ham, biscuits and gravy, toast, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, ribs and I can’t even remember what else.  There was loads and our waitress was there to make sure we tried everything!   We really had a great time because of her and tipped outrageously.  

Imagine our surprise the next morning, when we saw her coming out of the house across the street!   As if we needed more food, (we ate almost every meal out, cooked in the house and snacked our way across the city)  from time to time she would drop off some of her husband’s home cooked meals; sweet potato pie, red beans and rice, gumbo, boudin, fried chicken.   Obliged, out of courtesy, to do justice to his efforts we just “manned-up”, polishing everything off with gusto.   We gained so much weight that it was a relief to return to Ethiopia after 3 weeks of hedonistic excess.  

Not all of the food in New Orleans is pork and fried, but a lot of it is.  A visit to the supermarket’s meat section is enlightening.   As you walk along browsing you will see the packages of  pork, pork, pork, pork, chicken, pork, pork, pork, beef, pork, pork, pork……  While reading the newspaper you also notice an inordinate amount of early deaths; young men and women in their 20s and 30s, no kidding, and all of them couldn’t have been “drive-bys”.   Anyway, New Orleans cuisine is a must before dying or, if it happens, during.

The Central Grocery is world famous, and rightfully so, for it’s Muffuletta Sandwich.   The sandwich is basically a Dagwood/Hoagie/Subway type sandwich layered with a killer olive salad.  Even if you don’t like olives, you’ll love this.  It’s great alone or on bread or mounded on lettuce or stuffed inside tomatoes or let your imagination be your guide.  This would be truly awesome on a hot Italian sausage sandwich!        

Buy a round loaf, or as round as you can get it, cut in half lengthwise and pull out some of the soft insides.   Buy 2 kinds of sliced cheese and three kinds of sliced meat.  Make the olive salad and look at the pictures.         

Serves four.

12 ounce jar of drained Giardiniera 
1 cup of pitted black olives, preferably Greek
2 cups of pimento stuffed green olives
12 ounce jar of drained roasted peppers
5 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp of capers, chopped

1 cup of extra virgin olive oil or better                                                         
1tbsp of oregano
1 tsp of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely chop black olives, green olives and roasted peppers and put in a large bowl with Giardiniera.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

If you want this sandwich to be an authentic copy of the one at the Central Grocery, use Genoa salami, mortadella and ham for the meats; mozzarella and provolone for the cheeses.  But really, with the olive salad to seal the deal, all combinations are possible and I don’t see how you could go wrong.  

Whenever I see a hearty sandwich like this one, I always think of beer.  

The best beers are European; Germany, Holland, Belgium, UK 
and not France.  Some African/island country beers to try are:
So B Bra So.B.Bra Biere beer label
Burkina Faso: So.b.bra

Haiti: Prestige
Kenya: Tusker


Benin: Castel
Ethiopia: Bati

Ghana: Star

Tanzania:  Kilimanjaro




About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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1 Response to Olive Salad

  1. Kevin says:

    Great sandwich, with every one of those beers. And don't forget Biere Niger! One of those "conjonctures" would be perfect with that sandwich!

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