So, is it the history and legacy that sets the po-boy apart?
If the bread and fillings can be replicated outside of New Orleans, then what else sets the po-boy apart as only “genuine” in the Crescent City. Well, the history, for one, which anyone who has visited the city or has friends there has surely picked up on. And, sure, the workers’ strike and the Martin brothers’ support and the Depression all made the sandwich a deeply integral part of the city’s history, and the sandwich has grown up over the years: while the old stalwarts like Domilise's and Parkway Tavern have po-boys that would be recognizable to our grandparents, the new guard, like the French Quarter’s Vietnamese-inspired Killer Po-Boys have changed the way that sandwich is served even in its birthplace. And those are still considered “genuine.”
Houston has its own history of shaping and blending foods. Dishes like those rich, tangy, saucy fries are, perhaps, where the city shines best: when it breaks all the rules and brings cultures together to create a melting pot of cuisine better than any other city can. Isn’t that what Louisiana Creole is all about? The amalgamation of cultures? Creole cuisine may have been New Orleans-born, but the concept Creolization is totally Houston-bred.
Let’s take a look at Houston’s Vietnamese influence, for instance. Because banh mi are basically po-boys with pickle-y things, right?
Head to any shop, and you’ll find the same French bread slathered with butter and pâté and piled with char-grilled pork, pickled cucumber, carrots, jalapeño, and fresh cilantro. Food truck turned brick and mortar stop Les Ba’get started taking things beyond tradition. They make an incredibly excellent French bread sandwich loaded with mind-numbingly good oak-smoked brisket and all of the classic Vietnamese accoutrement. It’s France meets Vietnam meets Texas... and it’s a beautiful thing. Then there’s Viet-Cajun crawfish haunts like Cajun Kitchen, which shows off a menu full of old school fried fish, crawfish, and shrimp po-boys in lieu of banh mi.