For years and years I didn't know what muffaletta was. It sounded fried to me. Like a pillow of dough. Like something that would fill your mouth and muffle your voice. (I make some strange root-word/root-sound connections with words when I don't know their actual definitions.) Maybe a doughnut of some sort.
Then I learned it was a sandwich. Still didn't really know what it was. Thought maybe it was like a Monte Cristo, sticking with my it-must-be-fried theory, which would put it in line for one of my favorite foods ever (if you've never had a battered, deep-fried ham and cheese sandwich, dipped in jam, you've never really lived.) I learned it hailed from New Orleans, and I thought of beignets. There was a lot working toward my theory that this thing must be fried.
Then about a year ago, I was at a bar with friends and one of them ordered a muffaletta, explained to me that it had three kinds of deli meat and a tangy olive spread on crusty bread. Wow. Not deep-fried, but still pretty tantalizing. But at that point, as happens on a regular cycle with me (and will have to happen again soon--darn my love of food and my thunder thighs), I was cutting calories, so I didn't try it. And I haven't really had an easy, here-you-go opportunity to have muffaletta again. (Muffuletta? I'm seeing multiple spellings on the interwebs.)
Until last night. It was the special at the Elk. So when I got back from California, that's what I had. Or, part of it. For lunch, my family took me to Angelo's burger place in Carlsbad and I had a monstrous avocado burger (or most of it, since a lot of it fell in my lap) and some fries, so I wasn't incredibly hungry. But I hadn't been able to sit next to my husband on the last leg of the flight back, and he had to go home and take care of the cat and go to work this morning while I had to stay in town to defend my thesis (this afternoon at 1:00!!!), and I wanted to buy time with him, so we had dinner. Anyway. That was a long sentence. But back to the point:
I love muffaletta. It is spicy and tangy and the bread was perfect and the olives were amazing. I still have half of it in the fridge to be eaten as a post-thesis-defense snack/meal/whatever. And, the more foods I eat that originate in New Orleans, the more I think I need to go there and eat. And eat and eat and eat. And then, probably, come home and diet. Oy.