It never ceases to amaze me the number of different variations to a specific dish. In this case, a sandwich. When we were growing up in Newark, Delaware, we would probably call this a ‘submarine” – we had one at least once or twice a week. The muffuletta is close, very close. The sub is Italian in nature and “discovered” in South Philadelphia, around Hog Island in the Delaware River.
The term hoagie originated in the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported, in 1953, that Italians working at the World War I–era shipyard in Philadelphia, known as Hog Island where emergency shipping was produced for the war effort, introduced the sandwich, by putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between two slices of bread. This became known as the “Hog Island” sandwich; shortened to “Hoggies”, then the “hoagie”. [Wikipedia]
It was known in the “early years” as a Hoagie. The name “submarine” came from the submarine base, Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Rhode Island, among others.
Those living in Eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island are usually told that the name is associated with two facilities in Groton : the US Navy’s submarine base, and the nearby Electric Boat Company which built them. This quote seems to support that theory : “During World War II, the commissary of the United States Navy’s submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, ordered five hundred hero sandwiches a day from Benedetto Capaldo’s Italian deli in New London, where the name ‘sub’ was soon applied to the item.” —America Eats Out, John Mariani [Morrow : New York] 1991 (p. 114-5)”
Here is some information on the muffuletta from Wikipedia.
The muffuletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana using the same bread.
A muffuletta is a large, round, and somewhat flattened loaf with a sturdy texture, around 10 inches across. It is described as being somewhat similar to focaccia. Bread used for the Muffuletta is different from focaccia, however, in that it is a very light bread,the outside is crispy and the inside is soft. It also has no additional seasonings baked into it, aside from the sesame seeds. The bread is more like French bread, but a tad heavier.
A traditional style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated to soften the provolone. Quarter, half, and full-sized muffulettas are sold.
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.
Olive salad is commercially produced for restaurants and for retail sale by vendors including the Boscoli Family, Rouses, Dorignacs, Franks, Roland Imported Foods, and Aunt Sally’s.
The traditional way to serve the sandwich at Central Grocery is cold, but many vendors will toast. This was mentioned in the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like.
The muffuletta sandwich has its origins at the Central Grocery in the French Quarter of New Orleans. According to Marie Lupo Tusa, daughter of the Central Grocery’s founder, it was born when Sicilian farmers selling their produce at the nearby Farmers’ Market would come into her father’s grocery for lunch and order some salami, ham, cheese, olive salad, and either long braided Italian bread or a round muffuletta loaf.
Here is probably a good variation on the original muffuletta. The recipe is Muffulettas. The one thing missing in this one that we made, is mozzarella. Also, this one has thinly sliced onion, chopped roasted peppers and arugula.
We made this variation tonight, chicken muffuletta. We used spinach, baked garlic and rosemary chicken, mortadella, thinly sliced onion and arugula. The salad is a shrimp slaw.
You can see that variations can be many. Our one suggestion is to use a mild vinegar and not one that is sharp. If a sharp vinegar is all you have, try adding a very small amount of honey. Have fun with these. They do make an awesome sandwich. Cheers! Oh yes, serve it with a Chianti or maybe a 2013 Marchesi Vineyards Valentino Primitivo. The bread that we used for the Chicken Muffuletta is an Acme Bake Shop Sourdough.