The po-boy is Louisiana's most widely eaten homegrown sandwich. Similar to the hoagie or submarine, the po-boy — variously spelled poboy, po'boy, or poor boy — is culturally representative of its city of birth, New Orleans, and the regions where it is most commonly consumed: southern Louisiana and the greater Gulf Coast.
The beauty of the po-boy is its malleability, the ability of the French loaf to envelope a diversity of fillings. The most popular stuffings are roast beef with gravy and fried seafood, most notably: shrimp, oyster, catfish, and soft-shell crab. Sliced cold cuts — turkey, ham, and the requisite cheese pairings — are available at every classic and contemporary po-boy counter.
French bread sometimes referred to as a "loaf," is the go-to vehicle for getting po-boy fillings to mouth. The bread's brittle-crisp exterior beautifully complements its airy-light interior. This contrast is due to a recipe that calls for more water and less flour than a traditional French baguette.
Today, the po-boy is a staple of Lafayette lunch counters and dining rooms. There are po-boy-centric lunch spots that serve familiar versions of the New Orleans sandwich, while others innovate on the po-boy's familiar fillings to arguably outshine anything the Crescent City serves up. Menus at seafood restaurants almost always have a listing of po-boys, with several places seeking to outdo the others, overstuffing their loaves with creative ingredients. The po-boy is anything but static.
Lafayette Parish has become a true po-boy region.
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