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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Traveling – Waveland, Mississippi

In 2005, hurricane Katrina struck the golf coast and come onto the US mainland at Waveland Mississippi.  The devastation in that area was horrific.  In January of 2006, I was part of a volunteer team from our church to go and offer assistance in the town of Waveland.  Later in March of that year, I returned for another week and this time I was the team leader of a group of five volunteers during the school spring break.

Let me start by saying that any pictures or television coverage seen of the destruction provides about 10% of the experience of actually being there.  Helping the people recover from a major disaster is very rewarding work.  It is also depressing to think about having one’s lifetime of accumulations and work reduced to a bare concrete cement pad in a few hours.  Many of the survivors were lucky to escape with their lives.

Our home base was a church five miles inland from the ocean, which during the storm, was flooded with four feet of water inside.  By the time I arrived, it had been cleaned, rebuilt and the sanctuary was serving as a workshop, supply center, and bunkhouse.  From the church, we would travel in small teams to work on different projects in the community.

The church was a good place to use as a home base, it had a kitchen where some wonderful cooks volunteered their time to cook for sixty people at least twice a day.  Even though there would be forty men sleeping on cots in the sanctuary, I don’t think anyone had trouble getting to sleep as everyone worked very hard each day.

Most of the work that I did on both trips to Waveland was to help individuals rebuild their homes.  I learned how to mud and tape drywall and became very proficient at that job.  We also helped clear trees and other miscellaneous building projects.

The teams were on their own for lunch (there was the option to go back to the church for sandwiches), usually we would visit the few local fast restaurants but we really wanted to have some local food.  Everyday we would drive by one fish stand that promised that it would finally be open on the last Thursday we were working.

On that Thursday, we showed up at Catfish One to have our lunch.  We marveled at the wide range of fried foods.  The members of the team ordered a wide variety of foods; I ordered catfish and fries as well as an order of fried pickles.

The catfish was well seasoned and cooked with a light batter that didn’t overwhelm the flavor of the fish.  The fried pickles were dill pickle slices that were battered and fried.  They had their salty pickle taste with the crunch of the batter on the edges; we all thought they tasted great.  The running joke within our group was that they only thing that is not served battered and fried in the South is salt, everything else if free to be fried – then they add the salt on top.

While I enjoy occasionally having some fried foods, that lunch at Catfish One in Waveland Mississippi filled my need for anything fried for several weeks.

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell

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