I knew that if I stood any chance at all at getting fed at the 2015 New Orleans Po Boy Festival I’d have to be there at the stroke of 10am.
I have a nigh pathological fear of lines and with 50,000 souls expected at the event being tardy is not an option.
It’s 10am and the lines at many booths are already starting to form, and in some instances (Seithers, GW Fins) lengthen. I reckon soft shell crabs and lobster aren’t going to lose their popularity anytime soon.
I’ve decided to have one old-school, traditional po boy from a New Orleans-standard restaurant and also to try a “modern” po boy from a restaurant I’ve never heard of before.
Walker’s Barbecue cochon de lait po boy is one of the most famous dishes in all of New Orleans. It’s been served at the Jazzfest for the past 15 years and tens of thousands of people have sung its praises.
With good reason. The pork on the sandwich is the ‘hog butter’ style, meaning it’s so tender it’s like a stick of butter that’s been flavored with pig and smoke. It’s juicy, served piping hot and it’s only $5 for a reasonable portion.
d’Juice is offering a grillades po boy, and while I’ve eaten thousands of grillades and thousands of po boys I’ve never heard of combining the two. How a humble juice bar can make a po boy this good is beyond reason. Eye of round has been slowly braised then stuffed into a French loaf and topped with a cabbage slaw.
Walking deeper into the festival I’m intrigued by a Stewed Gizzards Po Boy from Teddy and Ju’s, an outfit that appears to have just materialized amid the party. At this point I wish I had the ability to be a total glutton like Daniel Vaughn or Buffetbuster but two po boys is my limit.
Leaving the festival (I’m booking it to get to the 9 Times Second Line in the 9th Ward) I’m filled with a sort of existential angst. Some booths have nary a soul near them while others are deep in battle attempting to accommodate the throngs of would-be eaters. Who determines this? Are we not all poor boys?