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n. New Orleans
A sandwich consisting of a large round roll of Italian bread split in half and filled with layers of hard salami, ham, provolone, and olive salad.
[Sicilian, large circular bread roll with a hollow center, probably from diminutive of Italian Italian muffola, mitten, muffle of a kiln, probably from Old French moufle, mitten, probably of Germanic origin.]
Word History: The muffuletta was invented in the early 1900s by Salvatore Lupo, the proprietor of Central Grocery, a small Italian market in the French Quarter of New Orleans that still sells muffulettas today. Mr. Lupo's daughter, Marie Lupo Tusa, explains the origin of the sandwich in her cookbook Marie's Melting Pot (1980). Local farmers of Sicilian origin who sold their produce at a nearby farmers' market would come to buy their lunch at her father's grocery, and their typical meal included a hunk of cheese, various cured meats, some olive salad, and large loaves of bread. "The farmers used to sit on crates or barrels and try to eat while precariously balancing their small trays covered with food on their knees. My father suggested that it would be easier for the farmers if he cut the bread and put everything on it like a sandwich." Her father tried various types of bread and found that the loaf that worked the best was the traditional Sicilian muffuletta, a large, circular, relatively flat loaf that is baked so that the center is hollow and can be stuffed. Mr. Lupo's idea was a hit, and soon his customers had only to ask for a muffuletta in order to get their whole lunch in a sandwich.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.