My Last Meal Will Be This Poboy
Chefs famously ask each other what they would eat as their last meal. Invariably, when they give their answers, eyes full of wonder and ineffable memories, it’s some simple thing done perfectly, usually from their youth. For me, it’s a meatball poboy from Anthony’s Italian Deli in Baton Rouge.
It doesn’t look like much, does it? You can’t really tell how hot and crisp the bread is on the outside or how perfectly soft it is on the inside. You can barely make out the legendary handmade meatballs and mozzarella, and you certainly can’t smell the tang of the heavenly marinara sauce. But if you are ever able to put one of these in your mouth, it will change your life. It’s so hot you can barely pick it up and the combination of crisp crunch and molten creamy interior is astonishingly luxurious. A complex, deep, sharply defined flavor that is far more than the sum of its parts follows and goes from intense to a mellow finish with each bite. There are very few food experiences that can match it.
The same good people own and work in the tiny deli today that were there when I was a teenager. One day that won’t be true, but today it was. And the meatball poboy was just as good, just as transporting and sublime as it has ever been. Sometimes you really can go home again.