I am fortunate: at 45 years of age I still have a spry mother and father with which to pal around. The three of us walk together for exercise at least once a week most weeks, and today my son Christien joined us as we lapped Crescent Park, a riverfront post-Katrina project in the Bywater. At the end of our walk we headed a few blocks away to Frenchman Street in the Marigny and had lunch at Praline Connection, a restaurant described as serving “no-nonsense” soul food.
When the four of us get together we usually get around to talking about food and this afternoon was no exception. Before deciding on Praline Connection we had considered Willie Mae’s Scotch House, a legendary New Orleans eatery which serves a mean fried pork chop. Pork chops were still on my mother’s mind when she asked if I’d ever considered doing a pork chop sandwich for my food blog.
One of the many food stories in our family is of the famed pork chop sandwiches my mom and dad use to get when they attended dances and gatherings down in my dad’s home of Plaquemines Parish. African-American social events in the 1960s were often held in the meeting halls and gymnasiums of the local Catholic school or church, and women from the community would often sell gumbo, fried chicken and pork chop sandwiches during these events. My parents would give swooning descriptions of crispy fried pork chops on toast or French bread, dressed with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise…descriptions that tended to outshine details of whatever social event they’d gone to in the first place.
“The band was okay, but that pork chop sandwich was so good!” Cue swoon.
Enter the pork chop sandwich.
In my parents’ stories it usually included bone and all. I have removed the bone, but not the flavor or the humble, nostalgic nobility. No complications here: a seasoned, flour-dusted, pan-fried pork chop, browned on both sides; wheat toast; lettuce, tomato, Creole mustard.