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Where Y’Eat: Grab and Go Perfection on a Baguette in New Orleans

Ham and brie on baguette from Bellegarde Bakery
Ian McNulty
Ham and brie on baguette from Bellegarde Bakery

The bread had the perfect balance between audibly crunchy crust and air-pocked, aromatic chew. The ingredients inside numbered precisely three: butter, ham, Brie. The transaction to get it took all of 20 seconds.


This was the Euro train station sandwich, a personal obsession, finally found here in New Orleans, and one of those increasingly elusive lunch bargains too.


It made me wonder why such good quality at the pace of here’s my money, here’s your food isn’t more commonly had.


This sandwich came from a small stack of premade sandwiches kept by the register at Bellegarde Bakery, on Apple Street, just off S. Carrollton Ave.


This is grab-and-go at its greatest, complete with its inherent trade-off. You cannot customize this sandwich. It comes one way; take it or leave it. But in this case, the recipe has been perfected.


I call this the Euro train station sandwich because that’s how the style and my craving for it were burned in.


Traveling in Europe, you see different iterations of this — stacks of sandwiches, ready to go, looking so enticing on the counter, ready to grab on your way to the train platform or out to the street.


You can come away from foreign travel with greater insight on culture, history and people. Each time I’ve been able to travel to Europe, I come away with an envie for the Euro train station sandwich.


Bellegarde's sandwich brought that particular pleasure back and kindled my own gratifying memories of travel long ago.


It inspired me to seek more, and I found some fantastic examples at La Boulangerie on Magazine Street, Celtica up in Lakeview, Gracious Bakery and Saint James Cheese Company. Each one had its own version of this oh-so-Euro sandwich, starting with great bread, though getting it in hand entailed ordering at the counter, in the familiar deli style, and awaiting the hand off.


So it was back to Bellegarde for the absolute epitome of the style, ready to go. It was the one that inspired my quest around town. Maybe, just maybe, it can inspire more of the simple satisfaction of grab and go done to its ideal.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.