I’m in the business of helping people, so when the St. Landry Parish Chamber of Commerce asked for my help, I didn’t hesitate.

They needed a judge for the 16th annual Soirée Royale, a culinary competition Monday at Evangeline Downs.

This involved tasting and judging such dishes as boudin-stuffed venison chops, chocolate cream cheese brownie trifle, pecan sweet potato bread with praline sauce, etc.

Don’t feel sorry for me — public service is my life.

Chefs from all over Acadiana tried to outdo each other, and the result was the kind of wretched excess that Louisiana foodies live for.

The star of the show was Chef Jason Huguet of Steamboat Warehouse in Washington.

His grilled asparagus and jumbo lump crab bisque won the soup category, and his blue crab stuffed flounder with Florentine cream won best seafood, People’s Choice Award AND Best of Show.

As I happily munched on the “camp quail” by Chef Dustie Latiolais of Crawfish Town USA in Breaux Bridge (which won the meat category), I reflected on the joy of living and dining in Acadiana.

And I mentally composed a note to my cardiologist, starting out, “Dear Doc: I’m sorry. Forgive me …”

No escape

Mike Eldred, of Tylertown, Mississippi, says Val Garon’s tale of a Cajun grandma calling her grandson brought to mind a story from when he was a “central Louisiana budding redneck:”

“Each year we would make a visit to Horn Lake in Mississippi to visit the country cousins.

“And each year the tree house/fort of the cousins would be moved a bit farther into the woods.

“I once asked why. The logical answer was, ‘If we hear Aunt Margaret, we have to go home.’

“She sounded like Ma Kettle on steroids — and we could never get far away enough not to hear.”

Nesting instinct

T. Med Hoggs adds to our collection of golfing tales:

“I was playing golf years ago and there was a tree between me and the green.

“I lobbed the ball up, but it didn’t come down.

“Further observation revealed that it had fallen in a bird’s nest in the tree.

“I put that down on my score card as a birdie.”

The news at sea

Karen McLin, of Central, says our discussion of manual typewriters “reminds me of my dad. He was a radio operator aboard the USS Calvert (an attack transport) during World War II.

“He also typed up a ship newspaper, since he got all the news firsthand.

“He told me that during rough seas he had to manually hold the carriage back when the ship rocked.

“He also was able to get LSU football games on the radio.”

Taste of the past

Alfretta Hamilton recalls a grocery store on Railroad Avenue in Plaquemine in the ’50s, Kimburger’s, that had a deli case selling homemade food:

“What I remember most was the potato salad, with an ingredient I’ve never been able to taste since then. I’ve been sampling potato salad all over Louisiana and never come upon that delightful taste.

“Is someone still around who knows about this ingredient?”

Worthy causes

Larry Garner says fellow Baton Rouge blues legend Rudy Richard, who’s in poor health, benefits from a jam session at Phil Brady’s on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In addition to Larry, others performing include Kenny Neal, Jim George, the Lil Ray Neal Band, Kenny Acosta, Chris Leblanc, Lil Buck Senegal and many more.

Rudy is probably best known for supplying the guitar licks on such Slim Harpo classics as “Rainin’ In My Heart.”

For updates, see Larry’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BluesmanGarner?fref=ts.

Special People Dept.

  • Nelwyn Greer celebrates her 90th birthday on Wednesday, Sept. 10. A softball and basketball star in the 1950s and 1960s, she was an All World first baseman in the World Softball Tournament in Toronto, and an All Southern basketball player.
  • Lewis G. and Eva L. Craft celebrated their 62nd anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 7. Lewis served in the Air Force from 1944 to 1967, and Eva is a retired registered nurse.

Thought for the Day

From Fritz McCameron: “We’ve conquered polio and put a man on the moon. Now if we can just master those danged turn signals …”

A critical eye

This story, by Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, proves that there are some people you just shouldn’t take to museums and art galleries:

“I was at the New Orleans Museum of Art the other night, walking around and admiring the beautiful displays.

“A good friend who was also there, when asked by his wife what he thought about a particular painting, said, ‘I have no idea what it is, but if I cut a few inches off each side of it, it would make a great floor for my deer stand.’”

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.