We lost my father-in-law, Jack Sassone, last week. Jack always had a good time wherever he was, and everybody loved him. He was such a funny guy.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he and my mother-in-law were with us in Vicksburg, Mississippi, along with a number of other family members and friends, waiting to hear the status of their homes and businesses. Rather than sit around and obsess about what was going on in New Orleans, Jack and Edith volunteered at the Vicksburg Convention Center, where an impromptu refugee center had been set up, with volunteer doctors, nurses, counselors, etc., and a lot of donated medicine. The doctors didn’t know what was available to give to evacuees, because the meds were not in any order. Jack and Edith arranged for shelves to be set up and got the “pharmacy” in order — talk about being in the right place at the right time!
During that time, most of Vicksburg was without power due to power lines being down from trees and wind. Thankfully I have a gas stove with 6 burners. Everyone from New Orleans had brought whatever was in their refrigerators, and we were running across the Mississippi River to Louisiana for ice every day for the ice chests lined up in the kitchen, until our power came back on. We were making meals for somewhere between a dozen and two dozen people daily. There was no place to eat out, and the stores were running out of supplies. Edith had arranged for them to stay in a bed and breakfast, but the b&b had no food to offer. Others were temporarily renting apartments, my children located friends outside of town who had air conditioning, and Randy and I were “holding down the fort” on Cherry Street.
Everyone would come over for lunch, and lunch was whatever we had in the ice chests — cold cuts, salads, fruit. I cooked a big pot of something for dinner, on top of the stove, by shining my flashlight into the large pot to watch what was going on in there — red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, things like that. When the power came back on, I remember lasagne, quiches, and blueberry cobbler and muffins (my Vicksburg friend Leah still didn’t have power, and she had gallons of blueberries in her freezer).
When Jack arrived at the house each day, he asked “What’s for dinner at Cafe Sassone?” Hence, the name of the book.
I have a number of photos of Jack in Cafe Sassone, and as I get time, I’m going to try to upload them here, along with the recipe for Red Beans and Rice.
This is the photo from the title page of the Beverages section.