The Poor Boy That Might Have Been

I once gave the operator of a poor boy shop an idea that, had he followed it, he would have had to hire security guards to keep the line of customers calm as they waited to place their orders. His profit would have reached the millions and he would have achieved poor boy immortality. Generations from now, food writers would talk about him and his sandwich, which by then would have no doubt been franchised globally. But it did not happen. He was amused by my suggestion, but never followed it.

It is relevant to this story that the restaurateur was Chinese because the year was 2012 which, of course, as we all know, was the Year of the Dragon. “Why don’t you,” I urged, “create a special Dragon Poor Boy?” “Dragon?” he answered then added. “I guess that would be chicken.” “Yes,” I said, relieved that he had already solved the most difficult question. (Besides, I have heard from reliable authority that dragon actually does taste a lot like chicken—sort of.) From here the recipe magically fell in place. Begin with a couple of grilled chicken breasts; top generously with dragon green guacamole dip. Decorate with sliced sweet pickles and then, if you want to be daring, disperse a few pieces of jalapeno for a fiery sensation.

Serve toasted. There could be no better meal. This would be the such a novel dish that the news media would go crazy for it. The headline writers would gush: “Customers Fired Up About New Poor Boy.”

And the future would have been even brighter. Imagine the sandwich during the era of “Game of Thrones.” There would have been Dragon Poor Boy parties throughout the world.

After a few years the poor boy shop was closed. The sandwiches were good, but I think the owner just wanted something else. The shop was replaced by a pizza place. I went there recently and saw the former restaurateur inspecting the building’s windows. One detail I had forgotten was that he had owned the building all along. We talked briefly. I reminded him about the Dragon Poor Boy to which he nodded, but then I realized that he really didn’t need any novel sandwiches as long as he could collect rent from someone selling paninis.

So, my idea remains untested. This year, 2019, would have been a good year because it is the Year of the Pig. (The Jazz Fest already has that, only they call it the Cochon de lait poor boy.) But if anyone has any plans for next year they might want to wait; unfortunately, 2020 is the Year of the Rat.

Errol Laborde Signature


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