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So, I make NO claims to authority on matters concerning the cuisine of the Mississippi Delta... but I had meetings downtown and in in Inglewood within a few hours of each other this week... so... I figured a head-to-head comparison was in order.
First, I ordered a shrimp po-boy and an oyster-po-boy at each location, and split each with my tasting companion.
Little Jewel: from the bottom up... the bread was room temperature, the crust was soft, the overall texture was supple and yielding. The lettuce and tomato were pallid, virtually pastel, limp, under-ripe, and they largely detracted from the overall aesthetic. There was a GREAT DEAL of mayonnaise, which contributed the predominant flavor to the sandwich. The shrimp was small-medium sized and coated in a thin layer of breading with visible specks of seasoning. This seasoning, despite its visibility, conferred very little additional flavor to the shrimp. The breading was not terribly crisp and slid off a number of shrimp due to friction/lubrication with mayonnaise. The oysters held their breading better, and seemed to be more thickly breaded. There was a almost overwhelming quantity of shellfish on each sandwich. There were a wide array of New Orleans hot sauces on the tables, which were fun to sample as one ate. Chef Mark was omnipresent, greeting guests and touting the authenticity of said sandwiches.
Orleans and York: again, from the bottom up. The bread was served warm from the oven, and had a distinct crust, which was crisp and appealing. The overall texture was more elastic, and gave the sandwich a more pleasant base (despite the fact that Little Jewel's bread is arguably far more authentic). The lettuce and tomato were pretty lame, but not uniformly limp and taupe. There was a very slight schmear of mayonnaise, which was so understated that it could easily be missed entirely. The shrimp were very large and there were far fewer than at Little Jewel. The oysters were also quite large (and the oyster po-boy seemed to have many more on it than the shrimp). The breading was, comparatively speaking, very heavy, and very crisp. It clung much more tightly to the shellfish, and contributed a fairly sharp textural contrast, which was great, though there was very limited seasoning in the breading. The house-made, warm, oil-based hot sauce was, on the whole, a welcome addition... though it did push things in a intensely oily direction.
So, on the whole, the sandwiches were clearly appealing to the same Socratic ideal: good bread, mayo, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, fried shellfish... but the iterations differed fairly dramatically. Little Jewel is clearly more concerned with their sourcing and their authenticity... but on the whole I honestly think that Orleans and York makes a better sandwich.
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