Today’s post is an excerpt from The Cabin Cook Book, a work that was produced a few years ago through the efforts of Al Robert (pronounced ro-bear) and Lynn Anthony Anselmo. The Cabin Cook Book is a dedicated effort by Al, Lynn, and others to preserve the history of traditional River Road cuisine. Chock-full of vernacular Cajun and Creole recipes, it also offers insight into how food and culture have a symbiotic relationship in south Louisiana. Most, if not all, recipes are served at one of Al’s three different restaurants: The Cabin Restaurant, Bernadette’s Restaurant, and Al’s Coffee House.
A po-boy is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat (usually roast) or seafood (usually fried) and served on a baguette (aka Louisiana French Bread).
The Cabin’s first food was a po-boy. It was a replica of a po-boy which was made by Mr. Melton. Mr. Melton ran the Burnside Plantation store (Robert General Mdse.) and he served po-boys at lunch only. People would line up out the door to get his fresh po-boys. He spent time with Pete Robert (Al’s first cousin, who was an original partner of The Cabin) to teach his technique of making po-boys.
[Some of the techniques include] Thinly sliced meats or freshly cooked seafood served on a hot toasted French baguette and dressed just the way you like.
A key ingredient that differentiates po-boys from other submarine sandwiches is the bread. Typically, the French bread comes in two-foot-long “sticks.” Standard sandwich sizes might be a half po-boy, about six inches long (called a “Shorty”) and a full po-boy, about a foot long.
The traditional versions are served hot and include fried shrimp and oysters. Soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, roast beef and gravy, ham and cheese are common variations.
A “dressed” po-boy has lettuce, tomato and mayo. Pickles and onion are optional. Non-seafood po-boys will usually have mustard, and the customer is expected to specify “hot” or “regular”; the former being a coarse grained Creole mustard (such as that produced by Zatarain’s), and the latter being American yellow mustard.