Thursdays are fried chicken day at the popular Christina’s Restaurant near the Baton Rouge governmental complex. I know this because a friend always wants to meet there for lunch then.

But, we get more than just good fried chicken at the little St. Charles Street eatery. It’s a good bet we’ll learn some interesting story about what’s really going on in the city since Christina’s attracts attorneys, judges, Sheriff’s Office and Police Department employees, and other downtown workers, plus nearby Beauregard Town residents.

Most importantly, we’d get a good word from the owner, Christina Bannister. But, no more. I was saddened to learn Christina died Monday after suffering an aneurysm a few weeks earlier. She had been on a respirator.

I met Christina long before she purchased the restaurant in 1994. She was working for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office — she was there for 18 years — and I was with the former State-Times newspaper.

We’d bump into each other on occasion, and she was always friendly and helpful.

A native of Tabriz, Iran, she came to Baton Rouge when she was a child after her mother, Rosa, and her late father, Jim Bannister, met and married when he was working in Iran.

Christina had often discussed food, especially her mother’s Middle Eastern dishes, so I wasn’t too surprised when she bought the former Maggio’s restaurant. Nor, was it a surprise the hard-working Christina turned it into a popular spot to get breakfast or lunch.

Her brother, Mike, says the restaurant will remain open.

She will be missed.

Here’s a recipe she shared with The Advocate’s readers in 2000.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is

Shrimp Christina

Recipe is from Christina Bannister, Christina’s.

2 sticks butter

2 onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 tablespoon garlic

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

2 pounds boiled shrimp

1 pound Mexican Velveeta cheese

2 cups half-and-half

1 can mushroom pieces

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (12-ounce) package angel hair pasta

1. Sauté bell pepper, onions, celery and garlic.

2. Add flour, parsley and shrimp. Cook 10 minutes.

3. Add Velveeta cheese, half-and-half, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions.

5. Mix pasta and sauce in casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese.

6. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes. Top with chopped fresh parsley before serving.