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This article is about the Sicilian bread and the sandwich made from it. For the Passover crepe, see mofletta.
From top left, clockwise: muffuletta cross section, muffuletta in wrappers, special olive salad sold at Central Grocery, circular muffuletta loaves
Course Main courses
Place of origin United States
Region or state New Orleans, Louisiana
Creator Central Grocery 1906
Main ingredients one muffuletta loaf,
marinated olive salad,
layers of mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, provolone.
Cookbook: Muffuletta  Media: Muffuletta
Central Grocery, the originator of the muffuletta

The muffuletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread[1] 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.[2] 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 slightly 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.[3] 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 Foods, and Aunt Sally's.

The traditional way to serve the sandwich at Central Grocery is cold, but many vendors will toast it. 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.[4]

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. In typical Sicilian fashion they ate everything separately sitting on crates or barrels while precariously balancing their meals on their knees. Her father suggested cutting the bread and putting everything on it like a sandwich, even if it was not typical Sicilian fashion. The thicker braided Italian bread proved too hard to bite and the softer round muffuletta loaf won out. Shortly thereafter, farmers that came for lunch began merely asking for "muffulettas".[5]

Pronunciation and orthography[edit]

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 forebearer. The proprietors of Central Grocery pronounce the word "moo-foo-LET-ta, other locals "muff-uh-LOT-uh."[citation needed]

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

  • muffiletta[7]
  • muffulitteḍḍu[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lempert, Phil (September 17, 2007). "Is the best sandwich in America the muffaletta?". Today. MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-05-10. The secret ingredient, besides the special recipe for the sesame bread, is Central Grocery’s homemade olive spread. 
  2. ^ "New York Food Journal Guide to New Orleans Sandwiches and Street Food". 
  3. ^ Florio, Donna (January 2004). "Muffulettas". Southern Living (FindArticles). Retrieved 2006-04-19. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Food: Sandwiches: Eating From Hand to Mouth". Time. June 16, 1986. Retrieved 2010-05-10. These in turn are the forerunners of the New Orleans muffuletta, a round hero full of Italian ham, salami, mortadella, provolone cheese and an oily olive, pepper and vegetable salad that is the specialty of the city's Central Grocery. 
  5. ^ "Muffuletta Sandwich History". Marie's Melting Pot (1980, ISBN 0-9607062-9-1). What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  6. ^ Biblioteca del Centro di studi filologici e linguistici siciliani, Issues 1-4 - Page 28 from Google Books
  7. ^ a b c Introduzione allo studio del dialetto siciliano from Google Books
  8. ^ a b Usi e costumi, credenze e pregiudizi del popolo siciliano ..., Volume 17 - Page 360 from Google Books
  9. ^ La Sicilia e l'Immacolata: non solo 150 anni from Google Books
  10. ^ a b Dizionario tascabile familiare siciliano-italiano from Google Books
  11. ^ a b c d Entry for muffuletta at LEI. 6, Part 1. Google Books: Lessico etimologico italiano. 
  12. ^ Vocabolario siciliano etimologico, italiano e latino, Volumes 4-5 from Google Books
  13. ^ Nuovo dizionario siciliano-italiano, Volume 2 from Google Books

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Muffuletta at Wikimedia Commons