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One Great Sandwich: The Muffaletta

By Molly Durham in Food on Jan 3, 2012 8:00PM

If the muffaletta were a car, it would be a Hummer. It's big, heavy and gawk-inducing. This complicated sandwich is a Sicilian dish that contains mostly Italian ingredients, hails from New Orleans and can be found all over Chicago in bars, delis and cafes.

The muffaletta (muhf-fuh-LEHT-tuh) is made with a round loaf of Italian bread similar to focaccia, Italian meats (usually genoa salami, mortadella, and ham), provolone cheese and a olive salad (usually consisting of green and kalamata olives, garlic, onion, capers, spices and red wine vinegar). Most muffalettas are cut into quarters, and a quarter is more than enough to feed one person. It's terribly greasy (from all the oil) and not for the lighthearted sandwich-er. It was invented at the Italian market Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans' french quarter in the early 1900s, and has since become a sandwich that's no longer exclusive to the region.

Lincoln Park bar/restaurant Local Option has a version with only genoa salami and danish ham for the meats (wash it down with a beer from their extensive menu). Jason's Deli has multiple muffaletta options: one traditional, one with turkey breast and a veggie option with portobello mushrooms, peppers, spinach and tomato. Tony's Italian Deli has a version with mozzarella if that's your kinda cheese.

Try other traditional versions at Over Easy Cafe, Bourgeois Pig Cafe, or the gargantuan one at Cobblestones Bar and Grill in Bridgeport.