Friday, December 07, 2007

Helping the Gulf Coast


Coast moving on after Katrina; help them

Chef and restraunteur Robert St. John has written an article in the Mississippi Sun Herald about supporting the Gulf Coast
businesses this holiday season. Being a "world-class eater", he ends up talking about restaurants destroyed by that bitch Katrina. Here are some excerpts from the article.

At a book signing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast last week, I was hit with a blinding jolt of reality.
I have been a victim of out-of-sight out-of-mind Katrina apathy. My hometown of Hattiesburg was hit hard. Yet we bounced back quickly.

I am a huge fan of the old-line seafood restaurants of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have fond memories of eating
at Baricev's
The Friendship House ,
McElroy's and the like.
I have always encouraged support of the independent restaurants of the Coast.
One restaurant that I must have passed a thousand times, but never once visited, was Annie's at Henderson Point.
As with most of the independent restaurants within a few blocks of the Gulf, Annie's was a casualty of Katrina. They, too, moved to Delisle after the storm.

As I signed books we ordered a cup of gumbo from the newly-relocated Annie's (now Café Annie, located next door to the bookstore). The gumbo was rich, the roux was dark, and it had the distinct taste of a well-made crab stock in the foreground.

As I finished my gumbo, I felt an overwhelming pang of guilt for not visiting Annie's in its original location.
At Café Annie, 80 years of Gulf Coast restaurant history have been reduced to a small wall of black and white 8" x 10" photographs. There are hundreds of businesses with similar stories all along the Gulf. Let's throw apathy to the wind and keep them in sight, and in mind, during the holiday shopping season, and throughout the coming years.

To a person, everyone who bought books at the Pass Christian book signing had lost all of their cookbooks - and their homes along with them - to the storm. No one complained. No one seemed resentful. They had gotten on with their daily lives and to the business of rebuilding the Coast. "It's only stuff," one woman commented


Robert St.John is an author, chef, restaurateur, and world-class eater. He is the author of five books and the upcoming "Southern Seasons." He can be reached at www.robertstjohn.com.

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