Smiley: Dry land seafood

Two New Orleans-area readers, “B&C,” add to our seminar on fortuitous encounters with seafood on Louisiana highways:

“We were at Delacroix Island trying to catch some crabs when a truck came by and dropped two hampers of crabs.

“After helping him to catch some, he told us we could keep the rest. It about filled up our ice chest.

“On the way home, we stopped at an Uptown bar to show people what we had ‘caught’ — without telling them the whole story.

“Boy, did we laugh when they all went out crabbing the next day.

“We’re still laughing 20 years later.”

Ultimate fast food

Years ago, a friend let me use his house in Waveland on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a weekend getaway.

I was watching a shrimp boat unload its catch when I noticed the deckhand throwing back some flounder caught in the net.

I asked, “You don’t keep those?”

“No,” he replied. “You want some?”

I said I did, and he tossed me a couple of small ones.

I hoofed it back to the nearby house, cleaned them quickly and tossed them in a pan with a little butter and lemon juice.

They were the freshest, most delicious flounder I had ever eaten — and the price was right.

Some like ’em hot

I figured this would happen.

Recent mention of hot tamales has readers telling of great tamales, past and present:

Larry Sylvester says, “When we were kids in Lake Charles, we only went out to eat at one place, El Rio Mexican Restaurant.

“We remember the tamales and enchiladas and know we can find the same ones, made by the same family, in Baton Rouge at El Rio Grande on Airline.”

Cheryl LeBlanc Babin says the tamales at Pimanyoli’s on Airline Highway are the best she’s had in 50 years.

She adds this story of legendary tamales of the past:

“Growing up in St. Gabriel and being a neighbor of my Uncle Price LeBlanc, who loved tamales or anything Mexican, I remember riding to Baton Rouge with his wife, my Aunt Shirley, and going downtown.

“She would drive down this driveway to an old home with a window where you placed and picked up your order of the best tamales!

“Maybe your old-time readers will remember more!”

Crimes and misdemeanors

L.P. Miller says, “Reading what some young folks are doing for excitement in school these days — toting guns, knives, hand grenades or Uzis; beating up the teacher; ingesting various exotic substances and similar fun things — I got to thinking about the bad things we did in that one-room school back in the ’20s and ’30s:

“Chewing gum in class, whispering, passing notes, playing hooky, pulling pigtails, tossing erasers and spitballs, saying ‘ain’t’ in grammar class and puffing cornsilk cigs.

“The penalties if caught were fearsome: a trip to the principal’s office — or worse, a note to take home to a very strict poppa.”

Nostalgia Corner

Mary Alice D’Amico Fournet says mention in the column of old Baton Rouge restaurants and lounges “brought back memories for me.

“My dad, Mike D’Amico, worked at the Italian Gardens in the mid-1930s as a waiter.

He married my mother, Rosa Polito, whose dad owned the Buckhorn Bar on Scenic Highway.

“My Uncle Tony moved here from Houston, and he and my dad opened Mike & Tony’s Restaurant on Scenic Highway in February of 1940.”

Warren Bourgeois says our mention of old Baton Rouge diners should include the Sip-N-Nip, a tiny place next to the Istrouma Hotel on Third Street:

“Back in the late ’50s, I worked as a bellman at the Jack Tar Capitol House Hotel.

“Hank Snow, the country and western singer, was in Baton Rouge to perform.

“He came to the bell stand around 1 a.m., looking for a place to eat.

“I suggested the Sip-n-Nip, and he invited me to go with him.

“He ordered a large omelet with chili on top.”

Inquiring Minds Dept.

Walt Brunty, the Benton Bard, asks, “What disease was the ham cured of?”

Across the border

Doug Johnson, of Watson, says our tale about the North Dakota/South Dakota border reminds him of this one:

“It is said that when surveyors told a farmer living near the Kentucky-Tennessee border that his farm was in Tennessee, he was upset since he had always considered himself a Kentuckian.

“Today, there is a small dip to the south in the state line north of Nashville, which is reported to be the result of the farmer’s negotiations with the surveyors.

“The story goes that the farmer was very skilled in the art of making corn whiskey, and the transfer of several jugs of his product had some bearing on the bearing of the line.”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.