Slabbed remembers Katrina Plus 5: Determination Billows Along Mississippi Road. By Ben Montgomery of the Tampa

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

KILN, Miss. – Along Highway 603, Bruno’s Bar, with the spray-painted rebel flag on the concrete-block wall out front, is closed. So is the Cajun Connection, the Broke Spoke and just about every other dive on this stretch of sleepy Mississippi country road touched and tangled by Hurricane Katrina.

Even the catfish are belly-up in the farm ponds.

But rising above cattle fields and swampland and this ruined, rugged little town is Roddie Bilbo’s bedsheet tribute to the spirit of the people of Kiln. The effortless homage hangs from power lines, stretched taught with two bottles of spring water, for all of Highway 603 to see.

They do. Folks honk or whistle when they pass, a half-dozen of them by the hour. There goes a family in a Chevrolet Suburban stopping to take a picture. There’s a “woo-hoo!” from a pickup window.

“See, that’s what it does to people,” says Bilbo, eating jambalaya and green beans in his driveway a few nights ago. “It’s been like that since I put it up.” Continue reading “Slabbed remembers Katrina Plus 5: Determination Billows Along Mississippi Road. By Ben Montgomery of the Tampa”

Still the best but by the hardest…

Good company is even better with good food and I enjoyed both on my recent trip to the Coast. We had a great meal Saturday evening down at Ground Zero. The restaurant had relocated inland and we all but had the place to ourselves – a sign of the economy according to Sop.

Nonetheless my platter of soft shell crab was perfection as was the shrimp I bought the next day from Ly Le to bring back. She’s a shrimp-only seafood shop on wheels parked on the right at the first light passed the site of the former K-Mart location. I had a preview after dinner when we stopped by for a visit with friends of Sop’s and could hardly wait to pick up a cooler and bag of ice on Sunday and head back down to Waveland.

These jumbo beauties were $3.50 a pound which is about a third of what they are here in Jackson. With ten pounds iced down, I headed back – never giving a thought to the work ahead. I’ve now shared with friends; cooked and eaten a wonderful dinner; and tucked in my freezer the only shrimp stock I ever plan to make.

At the top of my to do list today is call someone to repair the fan in the vent over my stove top! Believe me, putting a big pot of shrimp heads on to simmer is no time to find out your fan is out.

You’ll find my favorite shrimp recipe below; but, let’s talk about the $3.50 per pound that Ly Le charges for jumbo when a gallon of gas is higher – higher than shrimp per pound and higher than a gallon of gas a year ago when FEMA issued this press release. Continue reading “Still the best but by the hardest…”

Trip to Ground Zero starts with flat tire but after that…

I had nothing but good luck after starting my trip down to Ground Zero with flat tire – or rather delaying my departure a day due to flat tire.  By the time I caught up with Sop the next day, I was in a much better frame of mind and meeting his family put me over the top.  Our Sop may have been slabbed by Katrina but having the greatest kid and prettiest, sweetest wife in the world, along with a super group of friends, had to have gone a long way in easing the loss – they definitely made me forget my flat until I sat down to write this post and officially check in.

You’ll hear a lot more about my trip and, if I don’t screw up the download, you’ll see the pictures.  Between now and the 3rd anniversary of Katrina later this month, I’ll slip in a post every now and then.  Believe me, there’s much to report.