The muffuletta sandwich is traditionally made with mortadella, ham, salami, provolone, mozzarella, and olive salad on a soft, sesame seed bread. Based on its Italian ingredients, it may come as a surprise that the muffuletta was first created in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
The French Quarter’s Central Grocery, which has been open since 1906, is the birthplace of the muffaletta. Around that time, a majority of the clientele were local Sicilian immigrants who visited during lunchtime and fumbled with large plates of meat, cheese, olives, and bread. Central Grocery‘s owner, Salvatore Lupo, also a Sicilian immigrant, came up with the idea to combine it all into a sandwich. It has since become a New Orleans staple.
Ask for a muffuletta in Italy, and all you will get is a loaf of sesame seed bread. The sandwich takes its name from the Sicilian bread it’s made with.
As Americans, we all know bologna (or baloney). What some may not know is that this typically cheap lunch meat was inspired by the delicately delicious mortadella. Mortadella is a pork sausage that originates from…you guessed it…Bologna, which is in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.
Mortadella is made from ground pork, hard pork fat (usually coming from the neck), black pepper, and many times, pistachio or myrtle berries. Like many other Italian foods, there are strict rules that must be followed during production for a Mortadella from Bologna to receive the IGP stamp (a mark of quality given to foods specific to a region of Italy). There is no allowance for cutting corners.
Boloney, on the other hand, can be made with a variety of things. In most cases, beef and pork are used, but not always the choicest cuts. It is not uncommon for scraps, end pieces, and organs to be included. Some brands might even use a synthetic casing containing collagen or a little plastic…yuck.
Tasting the two next to each other is the easiest way to understand the differences. Mortadella practically melts in your mouth, while bologna…well, you get it.