I realize every region of the country has certain food items of which the residents are proud — New York bagels, Texas barbecue, California tofu, and so on.

In this part of the world, we feel we do a few dishes better than anyone — crawfish bisque, gumbo (both seafood and chicken-and-sausage), and especially jambalaya.

Doug Lee, of Prairieville, points out that when folks elsewhere try to duplicate the dish, sometimes they’re just a tad off base:

“Last year I took a job with a firm based in Clearwater, Florida. Upon traveling there, I had lunch with the bosses at a restaurant near the office.

“One of the bosses excitedly told me that they had ‘jaaambalaya’ (vs. the correctly pronounced ‘jum-ba-lie-ya’).

“After I corrected him with the proper pronunciation, he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Whatever. It’s great — they serve it over rice!’”

Lost and found

Leonard Mallett, of Lafayette, adds to our series on altar boy mishaps:

“I have a story about being an altar boy and not doing a good job holding the paten (plate) while the priest gave communion.

“In the old days we weren’t allowed to touch the host (wafers) — only the priest was allowed.

“Not paying attention, I moved on to the next person before I should have, and the priest dropped the host. As luck would have it, it fell inside a woman’s blouse.

“She looked down to see if it was on her blouse, then up at the priest. She then turned her head, closed her eyes, caught her blouse and held it open.

“The priest looked down, then gave me a look which made me want to run away.

“He looked up at the same time he reached down trying to find the host.

“After Mass I was relieved of that duty for three months and given a stern lecture about taking my duties seriously.”

Cats rule!

Elise Biggs, of Harahan, was one of a number of readers who identified with our “cat people” in recent columns:

“My husband Mike always tells me that our house is ‘feline shui,’ because everything is arranged for our two cats.

“The couches in the living room are placed so they don’t block the windows and the cats can look out; our kitchen storm door is glass all the way down so one cat can look out from the floor; we had to install our TV set on the wall because the cats were always sitting on the coffee table and blocking our view; and every day one of us can’t sit in our normal chair because a cat is sleeping in it.

“But, we wouldn’t be without them!”

Cutting remarks

Our series on the noble feline and its admirers brought a call from Holly Reynolds, reminding cat people that it’s important to have your furry friends spayed or neutered, to address a serious over-population problem.

If you love them, get them into surgery...

The write stuff

A while back column contributor Joe F. Cannon, a former newspaper reporter, offered to give some tips to folks interested in the written word. Here’s Joe’s report on his success:

“Had good results from ‘want-to-be’ writers. Have 52 on my monthly contact list. I’m sure you will be hearing from some of them!”

If you’d like to join Joe’s merry band, he’s at labus@bellsouth.net.

High on the hog

Alma Mims, of Mandeville, addresses our recent seminar on hog head cheese:

“If anyone would like to know what real hog head cheese tastes like, Treitler’s in Picayune, Mississippi, has the best. He migrated from Chalmette after Hurricane Katrina.”

No intelligent life

“We need a break from political rhetoric,” says Pat Alba, of Metairie.

She longs for stories on other topics, such as a UFO sighting — or better still, a landing.

“The late Al Capp, in his ‘Li’l Abner’ comic strip, illustrated this scenario: A spaceship touched down in Dogpatch and was greeted by Cousin Weak-eyes Yokum. Consequently, the aliens scratched all future explorations of Earth.”

Pat doesn’t say this, but I assume the message is that the same thing would happen today if a UFO touched down at a political rally...

Bless Pete!

Audrey Manint, who identifies herself as “from New Orleans; living in Baton Rouge since Katrina,” has an item for our “Corny, but still kinda funny” file:

“I had to laugh when I read about the pothole named ‘Brad Pitt.’ My husband and I named that beautiful fountain on Bluebonnet ‘Pete.’

“Every time we passed it we said hi to ‘Pete Fountain.’”

Sign of aging

John Hu, of Baton Rouge, offers this story to define the term “getting old.”

“An elderly gentleman confided to his best friend that he had just had an affair — and his friend asked who catered the event.”

Contacting Smiley

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