Lately we’ve been bashing restaurants outside Louisiana who try and fail to serve Cajun-inspired dishes.

But the news is not all bad, says Roy Pitchford, of Monroe:

“Yes, it is hard to get real Cajun food outside Cajun country, but I’ve had some pleasant surprises while visiting my son and daughter-in-law in England.

“A Cajun cafe in London had Tabasco onion rings that were wonderful, and the Pizza Express chain makes a ‘Diablo Pizza’ loaded with Tabasco.

“My son also tells of going to a teacher’s potluck event and being greeted by a familiar aroma.

“One of the teachers was bragging on the wonderful cooking aid she had found at a spice shop — Zatarain’s.”

Fine dining

Phoebe Thompson says “mater sanriches,” that summer treat, must be made with tomatoes at room temperature.

She also has a story about Cajun food in England:

“The very best ‘Cajun grilled chicken salad’ I ever had was in a pub in London.

“When I ordered it I was wondering what I was going to get, but it was perfectly seasoned and grilled, and the vinaigrette had to have been straight from a fine restaurant in New Orleans.

“The funniest part was a gentleman sitting at the next table who witnessed this and said, ‘You can’t believe what restaurants in England pass off as Yorkshire pudding.’ ”

Oh, THAT big game!

Steve Peper, “a Tiger fan now in Iowa,” says our mention of Les Miles’ days as football coach at Oklahoma State reminds him of the time he was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City:

“This was before LSU’s recent football accomplishments, and it was hard to catch a Tigers game on TV.

“Well, the big OU vs. OSU game was that Saturday, and on Monday everyone was talking about it at work.

“A co-worker came up to me and asked if I had seen the big game.

“I answered, ‘Yes, I did,’ and said, ‘It was great that LSU won!’

“He looked at me like I was crazy. LSU had been on the other channel. …”

It beats Alpo

Ernie Gremillion says, “Some time ago we were expecting dinner guests, and my wife fixed a plate of stuffed mushrooms for hors d’oeuvres.

“She had some stuffing left over and put it on a plate, instructing the maid to feed it to the dog outside.

“A little later, when she couldn’t find the plate of mushrooms, she asked the maid about it.

“Apparently, a slight communication error allowed our dog to have a gourmet meal that evening.

“Our dinner guests never knew what they missed, because we were too embarrassed to tell them.”

Booming business

Monica Dugas says you can view the July 4th fireworks display from the deck of the USS Kidd. Tickets are $10, and boarding begins at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. fireworks show.

Get tickets at the USS Kidd Gift Shop, (225) 342-1942, ext. 16. Supplies are limited.

Proceeds go to the Kidd Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Special People Dept.

C.J. Guillory celebrated his 96th birthday Friday. He’s been an employee at Gerry Lane Chevrolet for more than 50 years, and was the second person hired at the old Polk Chevrolet. (Gerry was the first.)

Dorothy Rabalais, formerly of Lettsworth and now living in Atlanta, celebrates her 91st birthday Tuesday.

Etta Matherne Perniciaro, of Lutcher, celebrated her 90th birthday Saturday.

Baker and Jackie Boyd, of Baker, celebrate their 54th anniversary Tuesday.

Sounds familiar…

Jim Bickett says, “I’m not saying this is true, but I heard about this fellow and his brother who were very good at putting the little identification strips in the ears of female sheep.

“Business started booming when they put an advertisement in the local paper for ‘Ellis Ewe Taggers.’

“People just felt comfortable with the sound of it.”

Machine age

I heard this one Saturday while in Ville Platte judging the Smoked Meat Festival cook-off (I know, it’s a tough job, etc.).

A guy who just joined a health club is discussing his exercise program with the manager when two attractive young ladies in stylish gym attire come in for their workout.

The guy asks the manager, “What machine should I be on to impress those girls?”

“The one over there in the corner,” says the manager.

“Which one is that?”

“The ATM.”