I sat pondering the best way to approach the lofty sandwich filled with loose pieces of olive, celery, and garlic piled atop layers of salami, ham, Capicola, mozzarella, and provolone. How to take a bite of this gigantic deli fare without loosing all the filling. I held onto it firmly and smashed it down gently, gripped it in both hands and sunk my teeth into the thick bread that was holding it all together. The flavors burst in my mouth, I was so surprised how all of these components worked so harmoniously together. I love ham, enjoy salami now and then, have cheese of some sort everyday, and snack on olives on occasion. I had never thought to pile them all onto a sandwich, however, until I made my first Muffuletta in the cooking class I attended at the Jekyll Island Hotel. My job, the morning we made these New Orleans specialties, was to chop celery and slice the Capicola ham which is a traditional Calabrian Italian dry-cured cold cut made from pork shoulder or neck. (Also known as Capocollo, Capicollo or Capicolla, or Coppa.) Pretty exciting stuff. I was really annoyed that in this expensive cooking class, which really was more of a cooking experience than a class, I spent my time cutting lunchmeat on a deli slicer and piling it onto trays of sandwiches. Later, when we sat down to eat lunch, I was in a pretty snarly mood feeling like we weren’t really learning anything. Who can’t pile meat, cheese, and toppings onto a sandwich. I had no expectations when I grabbed a muffuletta and took my first bite. My mood immediately transformed. O.K., so I didn’t really learn any new kitchen skills that morning, but I did have a very positive experience eating something I never would have tasted otherwise.
Cut letters or shapes out of the cheese slices. Pour a few drops of coloring in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush or small clean paintbrush (one that has only been used for food) to paint the coloring onto the cheese.