Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

New Orleans Roadfood Festival, Mar-26-2011: World's Largest Oyster Po-Boy

From the Camellia Grill, we strolled over to Bourbon Street for the World's Longest Oyster Po-Boy. Some twenty restauranteurs had set up booths in a line down a block of Bourbon Street, where each would assemble a few yards of the oyster po-boy.

(I learned that the World's Largest Oyster Po-Boy was not actually a single super-long po-boy roll, but a string of rolls each a yard long.)

First, though, there was an auction: one by one, each chef prepared one or two yards of their special variation of an oyster po-boy, a few inches were delivered to the judges for their tasting, and the rest was auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the local seafood industry. The largest price I heard in the auction was well over one hundred dollars.

I found a space in front of one of two tables for K-Joe's. The one I was in front of advertised a remoulade coleslaw oyster po-boy; the other K-Joe's booth advertised an oyster po-boy with a sweet Thai chili glaze. I got to meet Joseph Faroldi, chef of K-Joe's, shake his hand, and tell him how much I'd enjoyed the deep, rich, sumptuous red beans and rice K-Joe's had provided at the 2010 New Orleans Roadfood Festival. He said that he remembered me from my photo-taking on our visit the previous day–I wish I'd realized that there was that opportunity to chat with him.
I'm still not quite ready to endorse K-Joe's as a Roadfood restaurant, but from watching Chef Joe at the oyster po-boys, I've learned that he was born and raised in the French Quarter, and everyone who passed by greeted him with respect and affection.

Once the auction was nearly concluded, the po-boy assembly began. Runners (including Chris and Amy) carried pans of fried oysters (all fried by Acme Oyster House) out to all the chefs. Chef Joe had already opened the po-boy rolls and lined them with his remoulade coleslaw. He then carefully placed the oysters one by one along his po-boy territory.
This video includes oyster assembly, Chef Joe's voice, and the po-boy auction going on in the background.

After the official measurement, the po-boy was sliced and served. The remoulade coleslaw was zesty and flavorful, and nicely balanced the light oysters. I thought to sample something from another table, but the crowd had descended upon the po-boy like a school of piranhas; the block-long po-boy was consumed in a few minutes.

After that, a brass band led a second-line parade over to Royal Street. This was my first second-line experience; as far as I understand it, a second-line is an informal parade, with folks dancing and following the music like Hamelin children following the pied piper.

The woman with the pink umbrella is Jennifer Jones, whom we met and talked with on Sunday. She is apparently a second-line leader of note; it wasn't quite clear to me whether she's a professional or a renowned amateur. (I wouldn't expect there to be much money in doing it professionally, but if any city could support a professional ruffled-umbrella-twirling second-line leader, it would be New Orleans.) Poorly shot video:

Another second-line dancer we admired was one we just called the Blue Guy. I wish I were as cool as the Blue Guy. The jerkiness of the video is a perfect example of the inherent tension between chronicling things like this and participating; the video is erratic because I was dancing while I shot it.
Tags: roadfood
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