Smiley: Where they say ‘Hold the rice’

Back when we were doing our “You might be a Cajun if…” series, one of the submissions was “You might be a Cajun if your mama announces each morning, ‘Well, I’ve got the rice cooking — what will we have for dinner?’ ”

We take rice for granted down here, so it’s a bit of a shock to learn that in other places it’s not a staple starch.

Consider this tale from B.J. Gowdy:

“Many years ago, while camping in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, we ran out of our Louisiana foods and drove down the mountain to the nearest little grocery store.

“After searching, we asked the cashier where the rice could be found.

“I had to repeat the question, as she took a minute to get her mind around my request.

“Finally she said, ‘Well, you might look over there,’ pointing her finger toward the back of the store.

“Finally, after another search, we found two small bags, aged to a yellowish color, with dust on top.

“When we were paying for the rice, the lady asked, ‘What in the world are you going to do with that stuff?’

“We explained about rice and gravy, beans and rice, even rice pudding.

“We left when she made a gagging sound and shuddered.

“Made me wonder which side of the war Tennessee fought on.”

Getting their attention

Lu Cutrera comments on the news that environmental activist Erin Brockovich is getting involved in The Sinkhole That Ate Assumption Parish:

“If Assumption residents plagued by the expanding sinkhole want more attention from the governor and most of the legislators, while also getting the public more informed of their plight, perhaps they should get Erin AND Julia Roberts to assist them. (Julia, you may recall, portrayed Erin Brockovich in the movie of that name.)

“Have Julia attend a town meeting in Pierre Part or Bayou Corne and you’re guaranteed a standing room only crowd — with male legislators in front row seats.”

Picky eaters

John LaCarna says our story of the “creature” (half a crab) found in a squeamish diner’s gumbo “reminds me of the customer in the old Gumbo Place on Chimes Street who complained that the gumbo was ‘too crabby.’

“And also of the restaurant reviewer of a certain newspaper a few years ago who found that the gumbo in one establishment had ‘too many oysters for my taste.’”

Looking for people

Deadline for applying is March 31. Email tonya_ylabr@yahoo.com.

She says Danie left
“hundreds of Advocates dating back to the ’40s, ’50s and maybe ’30s,” and Danie’s nephew Dan Miller is
offering them to anyone interested before he disposes of them.

Call (225) 413-4745.

Worthy causes

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank benefits from a “Music Shelters the Soul” concert at First United Methodist Church at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Soloists, choirs and orchestra are directed by Lamar Drummonds.

The concert is free; a voluntary offering will go to the Food Bank. Call (225) 383-4777 or visit http://www.firstmethodist.org.

Special People Dept.

Disney in Louisiana

Laure Van Kerkhove says, “When my ‘just turned 3’ granddaughter Julia persisted in asking for gumbo, her mother was perplexed as to why Julia suddenly had such an appetite for that dish.

“Then here came Julia with her new stuffed toy, that beloved elephant with the huge flapping ears.”

Speaking of Dumbo …

Hal W. Gould says, “In your Feb. 28 column, you mentioned Louisiana Food Day in Nome, Alaska, finishing with a quote from Charlanne Cress about the difference Louisiana food has made on that city: ‘Trust, me, Nome will never be the same.’

“In the tradition of the late Roland Daigre, I must point out that ‘Be it ever with gumbo, there’s no place like Nome!’ ”

The game of love

“Jazz Singer” tells of seeing this somewhat cynical sign at Not Ya Mama’s restaurant in Livonia:

“In the beginning marriage is like a deck of cards — all you need are two hearts and a diamond.

“At the end you wish you had a club and a spade!”

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