EATS, DRINKS + CELEBRATE | Who dat? It’s our Oysters Po Boy with Collards + Cabbage Slaw, and all the delish details of the Bayou Bon Vivant festival in Norfolk

Edwin Remsberg/Dishing Up Virginia

The Bayou Bon Vivant Cajun Music, Food & Art Celebration is a great opportunity to indulge in the flavors of New Orleans. This three-day celebration of the tastes, tunes, and traditions of the Crescent City offers everything from juicy handfuls of crawfish to world-renowned N’awlins jazz musicians in the vibrant spirit of Louisiana.

The event, presented by our friends at Norfolk Festevents, takes place Friday-Sunday, May 19-21, 2023 at the Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. Look for crafters, exhibits, music, and mouthwatering Cajun dishes such as beignets, gumbo, etouffee, jambalaya, and more. 

Speaking of food, prepare your palate with our Oyster Po Boy with Collard + Cabbage Slaw.

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One of our favorite sandwiches is the Po Boy, a kind-of catch all term for a baguette stuffed with some kind of meat – whether beef, pork, poultry or seafood – and often dressed with the usual suspects (lettuce, tomato, pickles and the like) and a sauce.

During the first Golden Age of the Oyster in the late 19th century, the meat was often oysters, and these tasty treats were called Oyster Loaves.

Some time during the Great Depression, the term Po Boy came onto the scene, and with it other fillings: roast beef, Italian sausage, fried chicken breasts, fried fish, and soft shell crab among them.

Where did the sandwiches make the leap from its loaf origins? Tradition says New Orleans, when these large, filling sandwiches were made and handed out for free to labor union members during a strike against the streetcar company. The strikers, upon taking the charity, jokingly called themselves Poor Boys, colloquially shortened to Po Boys.

Slaw Ingredients

1⁄2 cup apple cider vinegar 

3 tablespoons sugar 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

1⁄2 teaspoon salt 

1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed

1⁄8 teaspoon dry mustard 

1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1⁄2 small head green cabbage, shredded 

6 collard greens leaves, stemmed and thinly sliced 

1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated 

1⁄2 small onion, coarsely grated 

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Slaw Method

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, oil, salt, celery seed, mustard, and black pepper together in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, collard greens, carrot, onion, and parsley, and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Toss again before serving.

Oysters Ingredients

1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour 

1⁄2 cup cornmeal 

1⁄2 teaspoon salt 

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

24 large oysters, shucked

2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

2–3 tablespoons butter

Oysters Method

Mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, black pepper, and cayenne together in a shallow pan. Dredge the oysters, one at a time, in the mixture and place them on a waxed-paper–lined baking sheet to rest for 5 minutes before cooking. 

Heat oil and butter in a skillet over high heat until very hot, then add the oysters, separating them so they brown and do not steam. Sauté for about 30 seconds, turn, and sauté for an additional 30 seconds or more until coating is golden brown. Remove oysters to a paper towel–lined plate to drain slightly.

Additional Ingredients

Large French baguette, halved and toasted


Spoon the slaw into the baguette and top with the oysters. Slice into four sandwiches, and serve immediately.

Serve homemade cocktail sauce, hot sauce, and tartar sauce on the side. 

Yields 4 sandwiches

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