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Don Garland, of Baton Rouge, has a spicy tale:

"I was on a chemical plant startup team of Americans and Belgians for a year in Kang Bashi, Ordos, Inner Mongolia.

"We often ate in a food court where they cooked a lot of delicious local dishes, although we had only a vague idea what they were.

"One day, Frank, a Belgian on the team, pointed to a picture of something, a cross between soup and stew.

"The chef nodded and asked, 'La?'

"Frank, not knowing what he meant, but being a wise guy, replied, 'La la.'

"The chef, shocked, repeated, 'La la?'

"Frank started singing, 'La, la la, la la la!'

"The guy was stunned, and repeated it to ask for confirmation. Frank sang it again.

"The chef shrugged his shoulders and merrily started cooking, singing Frank’s song.

"Turns out 'la' is Chinese for 'spicy.'

"Frank managed two spoonfuls …"

Tears of a clown

Rick Marshall, of Baton Rouge, says recent mention of high school "class clowns" (I confess to being one) reminded him it wasn't always an easy job, especially in Catholic schools:

Rick confesses to being class clown at Our Lady of Mercy, "where we were taught by a group of nuns from South America who readily used rulers and other forms of punishment.

"They don't kneel on rice at Angola; but if Sister Willamenna was the warden, they would."

Ms. Pete 

Robin Roshto, of Baton Rouge, continues our seminar on nicknames:

"When my first daughter was born in 1971 I was still in the Army. When I got home two months later, I fussed at my wife, reminding her I had told her I wanted a boy. (Those were the days before a sonogram could tell the sex of a child before it was born.)

"Of course, I did not care whether our child was male or female. I just loved to tease my wife.

"I told her we would keep the baby, but I would call her 'Pete.' She grew up with that nickname. Today her sister and I still call her Pete.

"We named her Sharamie (Cher Amie). Today she is an EMT in East Baton Rouge Parish. I am very proud of her."

Which reminds me

When my daughter Tammy was little, I got in the habit of calling her "Charlie," for some reason. She didn't seem to mind.

Then, again for some reason I no longer recall, I began calling her "Petunia." She minded …

Raccoon gourmets

Our mention of raccoon stew favored by Gov. Jimmie Davis brought this memory from Edna Marie C. Sevin:

"Many years ago, my late husband Warren Sevin, of Houma, and his brother Francis, who lived in Pierre Part, had camps side by side on Lake Verret.

"These brothers ate any and everything. They smoked raccoon in strips of meat over a barrel smoker they had made.

"The meat was then cooked, and cooked, and cooked even more, until the meat was tender. I gingerly ate small pieces with Tabasco, while they devoured their raccoon stew."

It's universal

John Lee, of Covington, tells how he was reminded of the global reach of Tabasco:

"In 1970, my late wife Sheila and I were in a small cafè in the Outback in Queensland, Australia.

"Our table had a napkin dispenser, salt and pepper shakers, and a bottle of Tabasco."

Special People Dept.

Dorothy and Victor "Jerry" Blanchard III, of Plaquemine, celebrated their 58th anniversary Tuesday, June 22.

Creative packaging

Steve Koehler, of Metairie, has a question:

"I just bought a package that contained four pairs of men's underwear. It came in a Ziploc bag.

"Do they think I am going to put the underwear back in the package after I wear them?"

Stop, thief!

The ever-alert Ronnie Stutes, of Baton Rouge, reports that a recent groaner in this column was stolen from a current issue of Reader's Digest.

I'm shocked, shocked! So from now on I'm asking my bad-joke suppliers to wait at least a year before they steal groaners from magazines or elsewhere.

Offenders will be banned from this column, and will have to go back to writing their jokes on restroom walls…  

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.