They say that the muffaletta was invented in New Orleans by Italian immigrants.
I prefer to think it was made by the food gods and given to mankind as a special blessing.
Certainly Central Grocery in New Orleans makes perhaps the best, but I had one in Columbia (Miss.) the other day that was pretty darn good.
It followed the basic recipe, but it was toasted so the cheese melted. I know the food police will roll their eyes and threaten sanctions, but I am not against innovation, even if it challenges long-standing recipes.
The basic recipe calls for a round loaf of bread (it certainly is of Italian decent), olive salad, mortadella, salami, ham, mozzarella and provolone.
There certainly is nothing to complain about here. But the home cook may be hard pressed to find authentic ingredients. The bread is the biggest problem. Some grocery stores sell round loafs, and you may have a problem finding mortadella, the distant relative of American-made baloney (it was first made in Bologna).
So here is a compromise recipe:
1 loaf crusty French bread
1 cup olive salad
1/4 pound thin sliced salami
1/4 pound thin sliced hickory smoked ham
4 slices smoked bacon
3-4 sliced Swiss cheese
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
Slice the bread open and remove most of the soft white bread inside. In a sauté pan with a little olive oil cook the bacon until crisp, remove and set aside. Add the ham and cook until fragrant, set it aside, add the garlic and cook for just a minute or two. Remove the garlic and add it to the olive salad. Now load the French bread with the salami, ham, bacon, olive salad and cheese. Pop it in a quick oven and toast until the cheese melts. Serve at once with plenty of napkins.
Just in case you are interested: very slow oven is below 300, a moderately slow oven is 325 f., a moderate oven is 350 f., a moderately hot oven is 375 f. and a quick oven is 375-400 f.