Just a self-trained home cook in an 8' x 12' kitchen honing his craft…

‘P’ is for po’ boy

Honestly, I don’t remember how we first discovered this addition to the Buford Highway food scene about 2 years ago, but I’m so glad we did. Several New Orleans transplants run The Crawfish Shack and they are efficient, great foodies and attractive to boot. The menu is seafood as you might suspect, so if seafood is not your thing, then you might just as well keep driving.

The front counter displays an enticing assortment of fresh shrimp, tilapia, catfish, oysters and whatever offerings were fresh enough to pass inspection of the young purveyors who are usually working behind the counter in one capacity or another. The menu is on the website and I encourage you to print it out and study before you get there. The choices are not terribly numerous, but once in front of the cash register, you’re expected to order and not be too contemplative.

Now I am not one to ‘work for my supper’ when I go out to a restaurant. I do that at home, thank you. It was years before I would order fajitas because I was put off by having to put them together at the table. If I want to cook or assemble my plate, I’d just as soon stay home. Hence, I have yet to order the crawfish or boiled selections at the Crawfish House. If that’s you cup of tea, by all means, this is probably a great place to gorge on boiled/ steamed seafood. The bowls are generous and served steaming hot. The diners who partake of them seem to do lots of licking of fingers- it’s just not my preference.

But when I’m in the mood for fried shrimp or oysters, this is the direction to drive.

Now for some history excerpted from Wikipedia….

“There are countless stories as to the origin of the term po’ boy. One theory claims that “po’ boy” was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, LA), a former streetcar conductor. In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, Martin served his former colleagues free sandwiches. Martin’s restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to “po’ boy.”
One restaurant in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, Trapani’s, insists that the name “po’ boy” came from a sandwich shop in New Orleans. If one was new to a bar and bought a nickel beer, then he got a free sandwich thrown in. This was sometimes called a “poor boy’s lunch”, which came to mean just the sandwich itself.”[end excerpt]

If you’d like to read more about the origins, here’s the NY Times article which covers the subject in-depth:

Saving New Orleans Culture, One Sandwich at a Time.

Whatever the origins, the Crawfish House has just about perfected it as far as I’m concerned. Their bread has enough body to hold together until the sandwich consumed and the seafood taken from the counter display(yes, they count the shrimp or oysters) before your very eyes, fried to order and rushed to your table as soon as the sandwich assembled.

Whether you call it po' boy, poor boy or just plain hero, it's awfully good eating.

Now if you’d like to ‘gild the lily’ so to speak, go whole hog and order onion rings and hush puppies, too. The table is laden with accouterments of ketchup, hot sauce in 2 or 3 varieties, salt, pepper and a couple of spicy sprinkles which I’m not sure what they are, but they are certainly delicious if you like it spicy(which we seem inclined to more so since we have given up meat- go figure).

Rings and hush puppies, also made to order.

Notice: These are hand-breaded. Everything here is made-to-order, so be ready to wait- it will be worth it, I promise.

Now as if you need proof, here’s the table when we had finished lunch.

Can you spot what's missing? It's the sandwiches and onion rings, silly!

And if you just can’t live without dessert…..

These are delivered to the restaurant by a real southern cook(as opposed to a 'fake' one?).

Let’s just say we pick up our desserts the moment we enter, even before we order!

So whether you call it a po’ boy, a poor boy or a hero, which is what a po’ boy is, by definition, ultimately, I call it satisfying- and delicious indeed!

Toujours, bon appétit!

© Kyle A Nelson

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