About Michael’s Deli and Seafood
• Michael’s Deli and Seafood opened in Hinesville in June 2006 at its original and current location, 521 W. Oglethorpe Highway. The menu offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, noodle bowls, fried seafood, pastas, soups and burgers. All of the food is cooked to order, and you can choose from a variety of side plates, such as their famous fried okra, fries or slaw. It is open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
During my childhood, TV time meant sitting in the family room with Mom and Dad and settling for whatever station Dad flipped the channel to. (That’s right, he had to manually turn a knob, on the TV set, and pick a channel before taking to his favorite chair).
This is how I first learned about PBS and its early version of cooking shows, featuring Julia Child and the Cajun cook and humorist Justin Wilson.
My dad loved watching Wilson as he cooked up divine Louisiana cuisine while telling funny stories about growing up in the swamps of southeast Louisiana. I loved the way he spoke. It always made me laugh when he would talk about chopping an “un-yun” and use his catch phrase “I ga-run-tee.”
I can recall when I was old enough to get a TV set in my own bedroom (which meant my brother got the new one and I got his hand-me-down, but trust me, I wasn’t complaining).
Finally, I could watch what I wanted. I was now a big girl.
I set up the TV and turned it on. I flipped through the channels … and flipped … .and flipped ... and finally adjusted the rabbit-ear antennas. (No animals were hurt for the delight of my viewing pleasure; that is just what they were called back then. Don’t call PETA on me).
“Whoo-wee! We gonna make-um gumbo with un-yun taste good I ga-run-tee,” Wilson told his viewers. Yep I could watch whatever I wanted, and it turns out that I wanted to watch Wilson, at least for that half-hour.
I became fascinated with Cajun culture and foods. I haven’t made my way to true Cajun country yet. But I have, on various occasions, made it to New Orleans and have been fortunate enough to indulge in copious amounts of crawfish etouffee, andouille sausage, jambalaya, gumbo and, of course, beignets at the famous Café du Monde.
All those meals are intrinsically tied to the Creole and Cajun tradition that New Orleans and Louisiana embody.
I’ve tried replicating some of my favorite NOLA meals at home on several occasions, but failed miserably. “That don’t look too good, I ga-run-tee,” I’ve often said shortly before tossing out the entire dish.
You know it’s bad when the two dogs sniff at it and walk away.
But the one thing I could make was a decent shrimp po’boy sandwich.
The po’boy originated in NOLA during the rough years leading up to the Great Depression. Brothers Benny and Clovis Martin were streetcar conductors before they switched careers, opening a coffee shop near the French Market.
French cuisine was such a big part of the culinary culture of the time, and the brothers started using French bread, which to this day is at the heart of a true po’boy.
As former members of the Conductors Union, the brothers were sympathetic to the needs of their union brotherhood during a strike that started in July 1929. They fed the hungry men for free throughout the strike, and it was said that as men came approaching the coffee shop for food the brothers would say, “Here comes another poor boy.”
Throughout the years, people using the Cajun dialect commonly referred to the famous creation as the po’boy, and it has stuck for nearly a century.
August is National Sandwich Month. Yeah, OK, there are a plethora of sandwiches I love and could talk about.
I make a mean goat cheese and pepper jack grilled cheese, which is great with a ciabatta bun, French bread slices or Cuban bread. (You know that just made your mouth water, didn’t it?)
And when I go out for a sandwich fix, there are plenty of places within Hinesville that get my sandwich votes.
For example, I have yet to eat a sandwich at Uncommon Grounds that I don’t like. No one has yet to come close to its Uncommon Club or its BLT.
When I get that hankering for a sandwich that reminds me of Miami, I go to D&M Hispanic or Walthourville Meat Market for a Cuban sandwich.
And, of course, there are tons of places I could go and get a sub.
But there is only one place I go when I’m hungry for a po’boy, and that is Michael’s Deli and Seafood.
I strolled into Michael’s the other day, anxious to get my ragin’ Cajun on.
“I’ll have the shrimp po’boy, a side of slaw and a Sprite please.”
“Would you like half po’boy or whole?” the cashier asked.
“I’m starving, lady, I can manage a whole sandwich, I ga-run-tee,” I thought to myself.
“I didn’t have breakfast today so, a whole one please,” I said to the cashier.
I sat down and waited my number to be called. Michael’s makes the food to order, so expect to wait a few minutes to get your food. If you’re in a hurry, get there early to beat the noon lunchtime crowd.
I got my drink and utensils and found a table. The interior of Michael’s reminds me of a quaint seafood place by the ocean, with lots of shrimp nets and nautical motif.
They called my number, and I picked up my order.
What the heck was I thinking? This po’boy is massive!
There is no way I would be able to finish this in one sitting. (But I did, I can ga-run-tee ya.)
The lightly toasted baguette-style bread barely contained the plentiful amount of lightly battered and fried shrimp. The sandwich was dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato — typical of a shrimp po’boy.
I hoisted one half of the sandwich and bit down.
“Whoo-wee! That mighty tasty fo-sho,” I thought to myself in my best Wilson imitation. “That be some right tasty po’boy Iga-run-tee.”
I paced myself. I had to.
That sandwich was big enough for two, but sharing be darned. The shrimp was cooked to perfection. The bread had the right amount of crunch and softness. The mayonnaise was the right amount, allowing the flavor nuances of the shrimp, lettuce and tomatoes to marry together.
I think I might have frightened other customers as I ate up my sandwich, laughing to myself with zydeco music playing in my head. Luckily, no one called the loony bin.
After a long while, I managed to finish the whole sandwich.
“Whoo-wee! I’m gonna need a crane to lift the belly I ga-run-tee.”
I will admit, Michael’s has a huge menu, and up to now, I have only tried the shrimp po’boy. I plan to come back and sample more of their sandwiches. I hear they are all tasty (they ga-run-tee).
Do you have a favorite sandwich spot you want me to try, or if would you like a copy of my favorite grilled-cheese recipe, send me a note at email@example.com.