Of Earthquakes and Saints

Being from Mexico City, I am no stranger to earthquakes. I grew up with them, in them, numerous times. Yet I still remember September 19, 1985.  I was already living in Texas, and was actually at the Austin City Coliseum  for a Squeeze concert.  Some of my friends told me about an earthquake in Mexico City, comments I quickly dismissed with “oh, yeah, they happen all the time.”

But not like this one. By the time I got home and turned on the TV, panic set in. I tried repeatedly to call home, to no avail. It took days before I heard from my cousin in Chicago who had finally managed to call home. Everyone was OK, but over 10,000 people were dead, and the city, including the general Hospital, was in shambles. My brother tells me stories of how people, without really organizing anything official, just started  getting out there to help. He and his friends brought coffee and food to workers who were trying to find survivors in the rubble.  At the General Hospital, the only survivors were a dozen babies from the maternity ward, their bodies supple and their minds not able to grasp a thing. As far as they were concerned, they were in a dusty rather than wet dark womb.  Many others were not so lucky. I was unable to help, stuck far away, a new immigrant with little money. I remember going to a benefit at Liberty Lunch. Don’t remember who played, but remember many people being there and lots of friends calling to comfort me.

As I watch and hear about the people in Haiti, I have a weird flashback. Again, stuck far away with little money, seeing a whole country suffer YET AGAIN from another natural disaster striking an already impoverished nation. So during the NFC Championship last weekend, it was impossible not to draw parallels among my own memories, the impending crisis in Haiti, and the horror of Katrina.  As instructed by the NFL and TV commentators, I got my cell phone and texted Haiti to 90999 to send $10 to the Red Cross.  I saw Pierre Garçon wrap the AFC trophy on the Haitian flag. I saw Jonathan Vilma play with an incredible energy. And we all had tears of joy when the New Orleans Saints won that game. After so many heartaches, on and off the field, the Saints came through for themselves and a city that long has supported them and deserved more than any other to have something to celebrate.

We did, wholeheartedly, at our house. I made “Cajun” pizzas that were a huge hit, unfortunately there are no photos because we demolished them quickly to soak up the beer and adrenaline. But I’ll share my ideas and recipes as some of you may want to do this inexpensively for the Big Game on Feb 7th.

Photo from the Food Network. My pizza disappeared before I could take photos.

Photo from the Food Network. My pizza disappeared before I could take photos.

“Cajun” Pizzas

4 frozen cheese pizza of your choice. I bought thin crust 3 cheese pizzas from our local HEB brand.
1 pound cooked salad or cocktail shrimp, thoroughly drained
6 links of smoked sausage of your choice. I wanted Andouille, but ended up with Texas-style from Southside Market
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
Cajun seasoning mix of your choice (Zatarain’s, Tony Chachere’s, etc.)

Cook the sausage to brown evenly and drain some of the abundant fat. Cool slightly and slice thinly.  Cook the ground turkey (I used bacon grease I had saved and chopped onions) adding cajun seasoning. Let cool. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Assemble toppings on frozen pizzas to your liking. I made one with just shrimp, one with sausage and turkey, and two with everything. Bake according to box instructions. Enjoy with plenty of beer and add Tabasco or another Louisiana-style hot sauce to taste.

On that note, I remind you to do your best to help the crisis in Haiti by donating anything you can. $10 here go a LONG way there.


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