TABLE TALK

International Eats: New Orleans

Take a tasty trip down to good ol’ New Orleans without stepping foot outside your city limits! Discover if Creole…

Take a tasty trip down to good ol’ New Orleans without stepping foot outside your city limits! Discover if Creole cuisine tantalizes your taste buds, and we’ll tell you where you can devour some southern comfort food right here in the GTA.

The French Quarter in New Orleans.
The French Quarter in New Orleans.
Photo courtesy of Hillary Fox.

World-famous for it’s eclectic array southern comfort food, New Orleans cuisine is distinctive and multi-faceted. Throughout the nineteenth century, the city was a major immigration port and saw many different cultures passing through it’s streets, with many new immigrants settling in to call New Orleans “home.” These new groups blended together to create Louisiana’s world-renowned Creole cuisine style: A blend of African, Portuguese, Italian, French, Chinese, Native American, and Cuban influences. This melting pot of cultural cooking inspiration, combined with the city’s fresh, local seafood, makes New Orleans celebrated amongst tourists and foodies alike.

Hometown Hero: The Po Boy Sandwich – Simple, traditional comfort food at its finest.

 This classic submarine-style sandwich has a history as rich and diverse as the city it hails from. The Po Boy’s birth dates back nearly a century, all the way back to the start of the Great Depression.

Early in the twentieth century, two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, migrated to New Orleans from rural Raceland, Louisiana. When the Martins first reached the city, they found employment as streetcar conductors. Later, they opened a whole-in-the-wall sandwich shop near the French Quarter. In 1929, during a four month transit strike, the Martin brothers vowed to feed their former co workers for no cost. The threw together a inexpensive sandwich consisting of spare bits of roast beef and gravy. The sandwiches soon became referred to as “the poor boy’s lunch,” and in traditional Louisiana dialect, shortened to “po’ boy.”

Today, it is the staple sandwich of New Orleans.

Classic deep fried shrimp po’ boy with all the fixins.
Classic deep fried shrimp po’ boy with all the fixins.
Photo courtesy of Bonappetit.

 

How it’s made: Firstly, the bread is an integral part of the po’ boy. Unlike most submarine sandwiches, the po’ boy is made using French bread – the firm, crunchy exterior make it the optimal bun to support the sandwiches overflowing components.

Today, there seem to be endless variations of the po’ boy. The closest relative to the original sandwich conceived by the Martin brothers back in 1929 is the hot roast beef po’ boy. Served dripping in gravy, this mouthwatering sub is still relevant today. However, the fried seafood po’ boy could easily be crowned most popular – stuffed with fried oysters and shrimp, or soft shell crab, catfish or crawfish, this twist on the classic po’ boy has seafood lovers rejoicing. on the other end of the spectrum, stuffed with fries, gravy, and an assortment of other condiments, the French fry po’ boy has to be the most unusual of them all.

Billy Jack’s Po’ Boys is located a 3369 Bloor St. W Photo courtesy of Urbanspoon.
Billy Jack’s Po’ Boys is located a 3369 Bloor St. W
Photo courtesy of Urbanspoon.

T.O Hook Up: If you don’t plan on visiting Louisiana in the near future, don’t fret. You can find a perfectly delicious, traditional po’ boy sandwich right here in Toronto. Billy Jack’s Po’ Boys, located around Bloor and Islington, specializes in southern comfort food. With a menu boasting classic dishes like jambalaya, red beans and rice, chicken fried steak, and catfish tacos, it could be easy to forget the whole reason you came there in the first place: they’re amazing, authentic po’ boys. Billy Jack’s is definitely worth the commute out to the west end.

Billy Jack’s Po’ Boys, 3369 Bloor St. W., 647-352-3369, poboys.ca.