Deep fried joy at Freret Street Po-Boy & Donut Shop

A few days ago while surfing the net, I happened upon a fabulous photo of a fried shrimp po-boy. It looked to be a 12 inch beauty on soft Leidenheimer French bread, fully dressed with shredded lettuce, bright tomatoes and creamy mayo and stuffed so full with crispy fried shrimp that stragglers were tumbling out onto the butcher paper it was wrapped in. I thought, “When was the last time I ate a fried shrimp po-boy?”

Digging through my memories and my own photographs, I realized that I had not devoured one of my all-time favorite New Orleans sandwiches in over six months! Six months! Way too long to have gone without.

I hunted down the source of that drool-inducing picture and discovered the Freret Street Po-Boy & Donut Shop. Without breaking stride, John and I headed over to the corner of Freret and Valance for my 77th cheat. I am still standing at a loss of 78 pounds.

The brightly painted, sky-blue shop was quiet when we walked in, but filled and emptied at a steady pace with patrons picking up orders to-go during our entire stay. Though I was temped to try one of the other sandwiches (a Freret St. Special with ham, roast beef, turkey, Swiss & Creole mustard), I was there for fried shrimp. I got a 6-inch, sure it would be enough, and a side of onion rings while John chose a 1/2 and 1/2 – half fried shrimp and half fried oyster – 10-inch po-boy.

It wasn’t long before our orders came out or before I regretted not ordering a 10-inch…what was I thinking? The bread was soft and fresh and the well-battered shrimp were hot, crunchy and delicious. I watched enviously as John gobbled down his sandwich.

Feeling sorry for me, he reserved a couple bites of the oyster side of his po-boy for me to taste and although it had great flavor, the oysters were stone cold! John didn’t even notice, he was that hungry. We both devoured the large helping of fresh-from-the-fryer onion rings, dipping them liberally in ketchup, though I think I might have munched more than my fair share.

Finally, since it’s also been a long time since I’d had a donut, likely much longer, I picked out a few for dessert. John thought I was going a bit overboard selecting three of their largest pastries — a bowtie, apple fritter and honey bun — but I didn’t see him complaining as we scarfed down the glazed, deep fried goodness soon after we got home with a large, hot cup of Cafe Du Monde coffee.

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