The muffuletta (with numerous alternate spellings) is a type of Sicilian bread, as well as a sandwich in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is made with that bread. Like many of the foreign-influenced names found in New Orleans, the pronunciation of "muffuletta" has evolved from its phonetic forebear. Locals pronounce the word "muff-uh-LOT-uh." The proprietors of Central Grocery pronounce it "moo-foo-LET-ta."
The bread is a large, round, and somewhat flat loaf, around 10 inches (25 cm) across. It has a sturdy texture, and is described as being somewhat similar to focaccia.
The muffuletta sandwich originated in 1906 at Central Grocery, which was operated by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. The sandwich is popular with city natives and visitors, and has been described as "one of the great sandwiches of the world. Central Grocery still serves the sandwich using the original recipe. Other variations are served throughout the city. The locals have differing opinions on which shop serves the best muffuletta. The sandwich is so popular that it is served at Disney World's Riverside Resort Food Court.
A typical muffuletta consists of one muffuletta loaf, split horizontally. The loaf is then covered with a marinated olive salad, then layers of capicola, salami, mortadella, emmentaler, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated through to soften the provolone. The size of the muffuletta is enough to feed more than one person, and many stores tend to sell quarter or half-muffulettas.
The olive salad is considered the heart of the sandwich, and consists primarily of olives, along with celery, cauliflower and carrot. The ingredients are combined, seasonings are added, covered in olive oil and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours. Prepared olive salad for muffulettas can also be bought by the jar in New Orleans grocery stores. Mayonnaise is never used on a muffuletta.