Dear Smiley: Having lived and worked in Arkansas for over 10 years now, I can tell you firsthand, you get some weird looks at checkout stands in Louisiana border-town grocery stores.

They look at you funny when you check out with four or five assorted boxes and bottles of Zatarain’s crab boil, six bottles of Crystal hot sauce, 10 one-pound bags of Camilla red beans, eight bottles of Zatarain’s mustard and other essential food bits necessary for making meals with Louisiana flavor.

Do former Louisiana residents have a mark in the center of our forehead branding us as “out of staters?”

When they look at me funny, I just say “refugee” and they look as though they might understand …


Little Rock, Ark.

A matter of taste

Dear Smiley: Tales of people leaving Louisiana and missing the food reminded me of a similar situation.

On one of my first trips back to Tennessee after moving to Donaldsonville in 1974, I took a couple of bags of Community Coffee to my mother.

A few weeks later she requested that I not bring anymore of it to her.

She explained that after drinking it, she was no longer satisfied with any of the brands available in that area, which didn’t include Community.



A matter of survival

Dear Smiley: After 45 years of living out here on the Far-Left-Coast, I still stock up on Community Coffee, Steen’s Cane Vinegar, Steen’s Syrup, mayhaw jelly and Blue Runner Creole Cream-Style Red Beans (to name a few) when I go to Baton Rouge every two years for our family reunions.

Can’t live without ’em.


Santa Maria, Calif.

Tennessee Cajuns

Dear Smiley: When we moved here from Walker in 2003, the biggest thing we missed was the south Louisiana food.

After Katrina, many people relocated from the New Orleans area to Columbia and Nashville.

Nooley’s Po-Boys located first in Franklin and then in the Farmer’s Market in Nashville.

Imagine our delight when a Landry from New Orleans opened a restaurant in Columbia, specializing in Cajun cuisine.

About a year later, he opened a sandwich shop, selling muffulettas and po-boys.

That’s “food from home.”


Columbia, Tenn.

Jersey boy

Dear Smiley: Reading about milk delivery reminded me of my first paying job in my early teen years, living in the Pure Oil Camp a few miles outside Gueydan.

I would rise early, put the Jersey cow in her pen and shackle her back legs to keep her from kicking me if I happened to miss the bucket and spray her hoof.

Then I would take the two gallons of milk to my mother, who strained it through a screen, poured it into bottles and capped them.

My next job was to deliver one or two bottles to the rear steps of the other five houses in the camp.

For this I received 75 cents a week.


Morgan City

Thanks, Francie

Dear Smiley: At my home in Whitehall in the she had completed her donation.

Later, it was my task to shake a jar of cream until it turned into butter.

’30s, our milk was delivered by my mother’s hands, directly under our cow Francie as the cow ate her breakfast from a bucket in front of her.

Afterward, I took my turn, trying to squeeze just a little more milk from the udders.

Soon, Francie would finish her meal and poke me with her horns to let me know JERALDINE SZIBER


Burnt offerings

Dear Smiley: Pastor Dale Farley of Messiah Lutheran Church in Monroe started his clerical career in New York.

He said two pastor friends there would keep their vestments on after the morning service on Ash Wednesday and go out to parks, diners and subway stations, where they would bestow the ashes on anyone willing.

One morning an attractive young woman walked up to them and declared, “Ash me.”



It’s Greek to him

Dear Smiley: Surprisingly, I recognized and remembered “sesquipedalian” (which you mentioned recently).

As a young seminary student around 1978, I saw a boat on the Colorado river named “Sesquipedalian” (written in Greek letters).

I had to ask. The Greek lettering enhanced the irony.



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.