Po-boys and the President

A couple of New Orleans-related links …

First, the New York Times writes about the upcoming New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival. Why, you might ask, would such a venerated bastion of New Orleans cuisine need special efforts to preserve it? Read up on the situation, which includes one of my most hated interlopers, the invasion of the mass-food monoculturalism of horrid chains like Subway, the lack of off-street parking at po-boy shops, and more. Fortunately, there are still many places in the city where you can get it done right. And, of course, the bread is just as important as the filling, some say more so. The filling can be great but if the bread ain’t right, it ain’t a po-boy.

The associated po-boy makers have also managed to prove that po-boys are actually good for you!

Recently, Leidenheimer [one of the top po-boy bread bakers] financed a nutritional analysis that Katherine Whann said found that a gravy-dressed roast beef po’ boy, on Leidenheimer bread, with mustard, lettuce, tomato and pickles, has fewer calories from fat and less saturated fat than a comparable tuna sandwich from Subway.

That, plus anything from Subway tastes like cardboard that’s been put through a de-flavorizing machine.

I wish I could be in town for the festival, not only to eat lots of po-boys, but to see this battle royale:

And in what organizers are calling a French Bread Fight, a combatant portraying Jared Fogle, the calorie-conscious Subway pitchman, will square off against a combatant representing John Gendusa, the baker who, in 1929, fashioned the first modern New Orleans-style, French bread loaf, the base on which po’ boys have since been built.

If all goes the way it’s planned, as fragments of crust fly and a partisan crowd shouts, Mr. Gendusa will beat Mr. Fogle with a loaf of stale bread.

Jared, your ass is goin’ down.

Second, Doug MacCash writes a tremendous recollection of one of the greatest music venues ever, the riverboat President in New Orleans. You’d get on board a ship. The ship took off down the Mississippi, and the band began to play. By the time the band’s finished, the ship’s docked once again. How can you beat that?

I saw a lot of great shows there, but not nearly as many as I could have. The list of people who played there makes my knees weak. Man, I remember some great shows there, though … from local acts like The Cold and The Radiators to a bunch of unknown kids from Ireland who called themselves … what was it, You Two? Oh no, wait … they were called U2.

9 Responses to “Po-boys and the President”

  1. Greg in L.A. said:

    Nov 17, 09 at 3:17 pm

    Say bra, I have two favorite President memories, no make that three… no…. anyway, the oldest was going onboard with my folks for a steam calliope concert. Next was a Radiators concert when I was acting as a volunteer roadie (load in/out on that boat was a challenge) when the engine when out and we drifted out of control downriver until a tugboat caught up and returned us to the dock. But the best watching Jimmy Buffet at the riverfront amphitheatre during the World’s Fair. The riverside doors were open and in the middle of the concert the President came along. At first it paddled in place, then the Captain used the paddle wheels to rotate in place so the crowd on both sides of the ship could watch the show. Amazing stuff.

  2. Chuck said:

    Nov 18, 09 at 3:24 pm

    One more video, courtesy of Fred:


  3. Mike S. said:

    Nov 19, 09 at 12:25 am

    Ok, so — for the first time, I read something here that I really think just ain’t fair.

    Let me state for the record: I know and love real New Orleans Po-Boys. Roast beef at Parkway, the “Peace Maker” at Domilise’s, even a plain old ham & cheese from the late-lamented Carrollton Ave. Streetcar Sandwiches of my college days, I’ll take them all, any time, any day, and weep for the fact that I can’t get ’em here in the Bay Area. Should they be “protected” in New Orleans? Sure, I’ll fight for that.

    But back to my point. Clearly, you’re no fan of Subway. Fair enough. Personally I think Subway has its place and is even quite good in its own context (not to mention my kids love the place and I’d rather that than Smack-In-The-Box), but whatever: To set up Subway as the foil to the Real New Orleans Po-Boy is just silly, honestly. They are not the same thing and never will be — it’s like saying that Port of Call makes a better burger than Subway. Of course Leidenheimer’s bread is the best; if that product was readily available anywhere outside of New Orleans our nation would be a profoundly brighter place. Bread bakers, commercial and otherwise, *the world over* should be required to apprentice at Leidenheimer’s shop. And the Mona Lisa is a better work of art, by any objective or subjective measure, than a swap-meet Velvet Elvis (which, truth be told, also has its place). I mean, duh.

    And BTW, you know as well as anybody that a “dressed” po-boy means it’s got mayo on it (in addition to whatever else). Slather some mayo on that “gravy-dressed” (whatever that means) po-boy Ms. Whann tested and run those numbers again, please.

    Have I mentioned that Manhattans make me belligerent? 🙂

    And welcome back!



  4. Edward said:

    Nov 19, 09 at 4:56 pm

    Mike, I am here to disabuse you of the notion that Domilise’s makes an acceptable poor boy. They might have at one time but it was before I came along. I got dragged in there five or six years ago and watched them break every rule of frying. First they battered the shrimp then let them sit in the batter for extended periods before frying. When they dumped a batch of shrimp from the fryer, they would put them under what appeared to be heating lamp, where they would sit until someone ordered a shrimp poor boy. If the shrimp had cooled off too much before this happened, they would take the fried shrimp and put them back in the fryer to heat them up. Then they put ketchup on the poor boy. Completely unacceptable. Nice people, but they should know better.

  5. Chuck said:

    Nov 19, 09 at 5:25 pm

    It may well be unfair to compare Subway to a po-boy shop, but Subway operates in New Orleans in direct competition with local po-boy shops. I know people working in the Quarter who weren’t given much time for lunch, didn’t have time to wait at Johnny’s and ended up eating at Subway because it was fast. That makes me sad, and that’s one of the reasons why we have a po-boy preservation festival — the insidious creep of bland corporate mass-food. Subway’s gonna have to take their lumps from me.

    While I’m ranting (heh), their highly self-lauded fresh-baked bread is truly awful. I despise how they cut their bread, with that little V-shaped plug they carve out of the top (who the frak does that but Subway anyway?) and I have had sandwich fillings there that quite literally tasted as if they had gone through a deflavorizing machine. That said, it’s probably better for your kids than McWhatever’s, but for me it doesn’t register on the “tasty food” scale.

    I loved Domilise’s for many years, but I’m sad to say that after my last visit I’ll never go back. Email me privately if you want to know why.

    It’s too bad … I’ll miss their hot smoked sausage in chili gravy po-boy, which was always my favorite.

    These days I’m a Parkway loyalist, and if I’m in the Quarter I love me some Johnny’s. Hot sausage from Gene’s on Elysian Fields and St. Claude.

    Where else do y’all like to get po-boys?

  6. Mike S. said:

    Nov 19, 09 at 11:03 pm

    Well, dang it. Where am I supposed to get a fried shrimp and oyster po-boy now if not at Domilise’s? That used to be a standard for me, with a painted-bottle Barq’s, but it’s been nearly 3 years since I’ve been back to town. Does Parkway do good fried seafood po-boys? I love that place and it feels like family (my wife’s uncle owns the the auto repair shop called R&S just around the corner from Parkway), I’ve never actually ordered anything but the roast beef there. Louisiana Seafood Exchange (I think that’s the name, out on Jeff Highway?) had a good fried shrimp as I recall, but it’s been 15 years at least since I’ve been there.

  7. Chuck said:

    Nov 20, 09 at 7:54 am

    Parkway is outstanding on every level. I love their fried seafood, and their hot sausage is second only to Gene’s.

  8. Chuck said:

    Nov 23, 09 at 12:51 pm

    Passed along from Steve in email this morning, this was posted on the JazzFest forum today by a guy who lives in New Orleans:

    My favorites from today’s Po-boy Fest (at least so far….I’ve got about a half dozen things in my fridge for later consumption.)

    Vincent’s: Corn & crab bisque in a bread bowl. Nice start to the day. Delish.

    Emeril’s: Bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato shrimp remoulade po-boy. Served cold. Nice little spice in the remoulade. “BAM!”

    Palace Cafe: The ESP – “Extra Special Peacemaker.” A po-boy with fried oysters, brie fondue, spinach salad, onion, and tasso cream sauce. WOW!!! I hope this wins the contest and The Palace adds it to its menu.

    Locals are now voting this as their 3rd favorite fest with Jazzfest as #1 & French Quarter Fest as #2. Good turnout today even competing against the Saints going 10-0. I got back in time to enjoy the second half and then promptly hibernated for a while. So much food, so little time. As Skip Carey once said: “A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”

    Yeah you rite.

    (I want me one of those ESPs … NOW!)

  9. Eating The Road said:

    Dec 17, 09 at 6:59 am

    I had my first Po’ Boy at Domilise’s: