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This is a rather special bake. I'm heading into 'iconic bread' territory.
I had a request a while back from Sean Phoenix, a friend, fellow-traveller, educator and writer who wanted a recipe for Po'Boy bread - just like he had tasted on his travels in Louisiana.
"Po'Boy bread was something special. I remember it was crusty on the surface but soft in the middle, sort of like a cross between a hotdog roll and a french baguette - a bit like Vietnamese Banh Mi bread" (Sean Phoenix https://seanphoenixwriter.wordpress.com/)
That set me off on a challenge.
Po'Boy sandwiches are typically filled with shrimp, other seafood or beef. However, they can also be filled with ham, Louisiana hot sausage, chicken, alligator, rabbit or boudin sausage.
But, the key is in the bread. It is part of American history. It's one of a number of world-wide iconic breads.
The origin of the Po'Boy loaf comes from the French influence of the 18th century. Po'Boy is made with a dough that is wetter than that used for a baguette and so produces a lighter and fluffier bread.
Wheat was difficult to grow in the South, due to the humidity,. Consequently, flour had to be imported. A basic bread was needed that required less flour and therefore, less imported and expensive wheat. It was basic economics.
However, the name 'Po'Boy', itself, dates back to the Depression of 1929 when baker, John Gendusa, of Mirabeau Avenue, New Orleans, was baking bread suited for a particular type of sandwich. The Martin Brothers, Benny and Clovis, had left their jobs as railcar conductors to open up their own grocery store and during the railcar workers' strike of 1929 provided free sandwiches to the 'poor boys of the neighbourhood', being the striking railcar workers. The first sandwiches were filled with fried potatoes and beef gravy. From then on, over the next few decades, the popularity of the Po'Boy grew, the range of fillings developed and the Po'Boy became ever more varied and sophisticated.
The Martin brothers went on to open restaurants across New Orleans and they remained in business until 1972.
|The Martin Brothers Restaurant|
|Gendusa Bakery on Mirabeau Avenue, New Orleans|
|Leidenheimer Bakery on Simon Bolivar Avenue, New Orleans.|
|The dough weighs in at 1322 gms - making each of the two Po'Boy 661gms. |
Already, you can see the air within the dough.