After Sonny Chapman, of Ville Platte, said in the Saturday letters column that his folks didn't teach him French although it was their first language, Nancy C. Van Den Akker provides this possible explanation: 

"My grandmother, who grew up on Frenchtown Road outside Baton Rouge at the turn of the last century, never learned French. She claimed her mother and grandmother wanted to talk without being understood by the children!"

The first tailgate?

Ronnie Stutes, of Baton Rouge, says, "I was perusing the April 5, 1856, edition of the Opelousas Patriot newspaper (I know, I'm a little behind in my reading) and found a notice concerning the origins of the institution that would become LSU. The last sentence indicates that it might have been the forerunner of tailgating."

The article tells its readers that the cornerstone of the new State Seminar of Learning at Alexandria had been laid "with appropriate ceremonies, in which citizens of Alexandria, ladies included, took part…

"A splendid dinner concluded, which was heartily partaken of by the company…"

And they've been eating well at the university ever since…  

This gland is my gland

Bubba Guidry adds to our Louisiana food stories collection:

"When I was growing up in Morgan City in the early '60s and '70s, my grandfather owned the local meat market and raised his own cattle.

"My grandmother’s kidney stew with smothered sweetbreads was one of my favorites. One way of knowing you are dining in a fine restaurant is if they have sweetbreads on their menu.

"During the Christmas season, my mother’s family would gather at my grandmother's to enjoy the smothered cow brains. Those smothered brains made awesome sandwiches.

"Both regular and red boudin were always welcomed as a 'breakfast of champions.'

"On Saturday mornings after playing in a Friday night football game, I would wake up to the wonderful smell of calf liver smothered in onions, our traditional Saturday lunch.

"Also, I would cut a slice of freshly-made hog head cheese and place it on top of hot homemade grits. It would melt a bit into the grits."

Which reminds me

The title of this little story should be "Try it, you may like it." It's about me missing out on a delicacy because I didn't like the way it was described.

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Back in my business news reporting days, I had lunch at Baton Rouge's City Club frequently with the late Ralph Sims, a bank public relations guy.

This was when Charles Brandt was running the kitchen, serving cutting-edge dishes for that time. One of them was sweetbreads, served in a rich brown sauce.

Ralph highly recommended them, but the idea of eating glands didn't appeal to me.

Many years later, I saw them on the menu at Bayona, Susan Spicer's great French Quarter restaurant. I tried them, and it was love at first bite.

Sorry, Ralph; I should have listened to you…

Special People Dept.

— Jack Quinn, of River Ridge, celebrates his 93rd birthday Monday, Nov. 22. He is "a regular attendee at 6 a.m. Mass at St Matthew the Apostle Church."

— Johnny and Brenda Comeaux, of Denham Springs, celebrate 63 years of marriage Monday, Nov. 22.

Whistlin' Blues

Karen Tatum, of Prairieville, says Ginger Ford's letter in the Saturday column "bemoaning the lack of whistling these days reminded me of my grandmother in England.

"In my youth I was quite proud of my ability to whistle a tune, and did it often.

"But if I was in earshot of Gran she would call out, 'A whistling woman or a crowing hen is neither good for God nor men!' Maybe that’s why the habit faded."

And no discussion of whistling would be complete without mention of the infamous Vanderbilt Whistler:

Faye Guidry says, "Ginger mentioned no one whistles anymore and misses it. She should attend LSU-Vanderbilt baseball games. The 'Whistler' whistles throughout the game.

"Extremely aggravating; especially when they’re ahead of us."

That's her opinion!

Paul Major, of Livonia, says, "You know things have gotten bad when your wife says she prefers reading the obituaries to the opinion pages in the newspaper."

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.