Saturday, June 19, 2010

More to fill than the gas tank at Fayard’s BP

Fayard’s BP
Delores and Marie’s Grocery, Meat Market and Deli
1757 Popps Ferry Rd.
Biloxi, MS 39532
Open for breakfast and lunch six days with dinner five days
Monday -Friday - 6 a.m - 7 p.m
Saturday 6 a.m.- 3 p.m
I thought I’d sup on my last shrimp po-boy before heading back to South Florida after a 14-month absence and couldn’t think of a more suitably ironic place than a local BP gas station.  At Fayard’s BP, Delores and Marie’s has a much better rep for food than does BP for oil producing at the moment, so it wasn’t a difficult choice.

Nor would buying a tank of gas here or at any BP franchise be a difficult choice. BP franchisees have suffered during this oil spill crisis. Boycotting franchised gas stations serves little purpose; it only throws more victims on the pyre of demolished dreams along the Gulf Coast.

Keith and Delores Fayard own their station on Popps Ferry Rd. They also own the attached grocery, meat market and deli, Delores and Marie’s. Bobby Pitalo serves as cook. He’s a retired high school basketball coach -  and restaurateur until that other mother of disasters, Hurricane Katrina, washed his place, Big Mike’s, away.  Real people, these - not oil magnates.

And they serve up some authentic Gulf Coast food.

The shrimp po-boy – dressed and pressed (about $7) did not disappoint … lots of fresh shrimp and juicy tomatoes. They sell the best (house made) cole slaw I’ve had in Mississippi.  The menu headliner is their seafood gumbo - a savory delight.  

“Keith and I worked several months to refine a recipe that was in my family since way back,” Pitalo said. “It was from the early 1900s – the teens.”

They sell plenty of it – by the cup ($3.95), bowl ($5.99), quart ($15.99) and gallon ($52.99). It’s made with local shrimp, which are safe to eat – for now. They worry about what will happen if shrimping is halted because of the spill, which has not yet reached the Mississippi Sound.

“We worry about where we’ll get shrimp, what price it will be,” Pitalo said about a possible local ban. “But there’s something else – we worry about the taste of the gumbo changing without Gulf shrimp.”

For now, there's a steady stream of customers for that delicious gumbo. Something tells me they'll come up with a winning recipe whatever the source of shrimp, especially the way they cook it up at Delores and Marie’s at Fayard’s BP. ©Jane Feehan. All rights reserved.

Next stop: South Florida 

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