The muffuletta or muffaletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread[1] and a popular sandwich that originated among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana, using the same bread.

From top left, clockwise: muffuletta cross section, muffuletta in wrappers, muffuletta-style olive salad, circular muffuletta loaves
CourseMain course
Place of originItaly (bread)
United States (sandwich)
Region or stateSicily
New Orleans
Main ingredientsBread: Wheat flour, water, eggs, olive oil, yeast, salt, sugar
Sandwich: marinated muffuletta-style olive salad, layers of mortadella, salami, Swiss cheese, ham, provolone


The muffuletta bread has origins in Sicily.[2]

The muffuletta sandwich is said to have been created in 1906 at Central Grocery Co. on Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., by its delicatessen owner Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant.[3][4] Sicilian immigrant Biaggio Montalbano (Wikidata), who was a delicatessen owner in New Orleans, is credited with invention of the Roma Sandwich, which may have been a forerunner of the Muffuletta.[5] Another Italian-style New Orleans delicatessen, Progress Grocery Co., originally opened in 1924 by the Perrone family, claims the origin of the muffuletta is uncertain.[6]

The traditional-style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf[7] split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated muffuletta-style olive salad,[8] salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella.[9] Quarter, half, and full-sized muffulettas are sold.[10][11]

The signature olive salad consists of olives diced with the celery, cauliflower and carrot found in a jar of giardiniera, seasoned with oregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours.[12]

A muffuletta is usually served cold, but many vendors will toast it.[10]

Etymology, pronunciation, and orthography

The name is believed to be a diminutive form of muffe ("mold", "mushroom"), perhaps due to the round sandwich bread being reminiscent of a mushroom cap; or from muffola, "muff, mitten,".[13][14] The forms muffoletta and its iterations are modern Italianisms of the original Sicilian. Like many of the foreign-influenced terms found in New Orleans, pronunciation has evolved from a phonetic forebear.

Depending on the specific Sicilian dialect, the item may be spelled:

There are similarities between the muffuletta and the pan bagnat sandwich which comes from Nice, France.[23]

See also


  1. Lempert, Phil (September 17, 2007). "Is the best sandwich in America the muffaletta?". Today. MSNBC. Archived from the original on November 9, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-10. The secret ingredient, besides the special recipe for the sesame bread, is Central Grocery's homemade olive spread.
  2. "An Inman Square Gem Will Serve Gigantic Sandwiches at Fenway's New Food Hall". June 26, 2019.
  3. Orchant, Rebecca (12 February 2013). "The Muffuletta: New Orleans' Original Italian Sandwich". Food & Drink. Huffington Post. Oath Inc.
  4. "1906: The muffuletta is created in New Orleans". Times-Picayune. NOLA Media Group. 10 October 2011. Archived from the original on 5 November 2011.
  5. "Biaggio Montalbano". New Orleans Magazine. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  6. "Our History".
  7. "Leidenheimer Baking Company".
  8. "Looking for a summer snack? Try these two spreads: pimento cheese and muffuletta-style olive salad". July 8, 2019.
  9. "Best Muffulettas in the French Quarter and Nearby".
  10. Squires, Kathleen (21 April 2016). "The 5 Best Muffuletta Sandwiches in New Orleans" via
  11. "Muffuletta". Williams Sonoma.
  12. "Olive Salad". Williams Sonoma.
  13. Ayto, John (October 18, 2012). The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780199640249 via Google Books.
  14. Soukhanov, Anne H. (June 10, 2010). "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, 3rd Ed, Auto-Graphic, Inc,: Dictionary of English Language". Bukupedia via Google Books.
  15. Avolio, Corrado (1882). Introduzione allo studio del dialetto siciliano: tentativo d'applicazione del metodo storico-comparativo (in Italian). Uff. Tip. di Fr. Zammit. p. 59 via Google Books.
  16. Pfister, Max (1997). Lessico etimologico italiano (in Italian). Vol. 6. Reichert. p. 441. ISBN 978-3-89500-019-5.
  17. Biblioteca del Centro di studi filologici e linguistici siciliani: Issues 1–4 (in Italian). 1977. p. 28 via Google Books.
  18. Pitrè, Giuseppe (1889). Usi e costumi, credenze e pregiudizi del popolo siciliano (in Italian). Vol. 17. L. P. Lauriel di C. Clausen. p. 360 via Google Books.
  19. Ciccarelli, Diego; Valenza, Marisa Dora, eds. (2006). La Sicilia e l'Immacolata: non solo 150 anni. Collana Franciscana (in Italian). Vol. 15. Officina di Studi Medievali. p. 39. ISBN 978-88-88615-96-7 via Google Books.
  20. Dizionario tascabile familiare siciliano-italiano (in Italian). Vol. 1. Palermo: Stamperia Spampinato. 1840. p. 66 via Google Books.
  21. Pasqualino, Michele (1790). Vocabolario siciliano etimologico, italiano e latino (in Italian). Vol. 4–5. Reale Stamperia. p. 26 via Google Books.
  22. Mortillaro, Vincenzo, ed. (1844). Nuovo dizionario siciliano-italiano (in Italian). Vol. 2. Tip. del Giornale letterario. p. 75 via Google Books.
  23. Hertzberg, J.; Franรงois, Z.; Gross, S.S. (2013). The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. St. Martin's Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-250-01828-1. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
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