T.W. tells of a ubiquitous Louisiana seasoning and a stunning omission:
"In the early 2000s, when I was a road warrior, I spent several months working in Chicago.
"The locals I was working with insisted that I try a local 'Cajun' place they raved about. Their cajoling was met with eye rolls and excuses from me to avoid the place, but they finally wore me down and we went for lunch.
"The food at 'Heaven on Seven' was not great, but it also wasn’t offensive.
"The really interesting part of the small restaurant, located on the seventh floor of an office building (get it?) in the Loop, was its collection of hundreds of hot sauces and Creole seasonings displayed on shelves all around the dining area.
"The chef claimed to have been trained in New Orleans — but when I asked him for some Tony Chachere’s, he gave me a blank look and said he was unfamiliar with the brand.
"I immediately questioned his pedigree. I did, however, eat there a second time — but it was really so I could give him a shaker of Tony’s for his spice wall!"
Which reminds me
I first met Tony Chachere when we judged a jambalaya contest at the late lamented Pop's Bar on False River (I treasure a photo of us wearing Pop's T-shirts that's on the kitchen wall).
We met at various food events after that, and seeing him was always a treat. He enjoyed life as much as anyone I've ever known, and loved good food and good friends.
I was honored to be asked to write the foreword to what turned out to be his last cookbook (he died just before it came out), "Tony Chachere's Second Helping," in 1995.
In it I wrote that I always referred to Mr. Tony when someone asked me, "What is a Cajun and what's so special about them?"
And in sports news…
Has the pandemic starved us for live entertainment? Read on:
Martin Audiffred, of Mandeville, says, "Since COVID, with the strong recommendations to wash your hands often, I have really improved my basketball skills.
"In a public restroom, I wash and dry my hands and use my elbow or foot to hold the door open while I try to loop the paper towel into the trash can.
"It is three-pointer when the trash can has a foot pedal to open the lid."
Dave Henry has a question regarding newspaper purchasing etiquette:
"I live in Houston but visit New Orleans often (my wife's surname is LeBlanc, which tells you everything you need to know), and I always enjoy your column.
"This week we've been staying in Mid-City, and early each morning I've gone to the vending box at the corner of St. Peter and Carrollton to buy the newspaper.
"And each morning there has been exactly one copy in the box; the one that you can see through the clear plastic window.
"I feel a little guilty about taking away what is essentially a billboard for the paper, and about the carbon footprint it took to get that lone paper into my grateful hands."
I know the feeling, Dave, but I'd advise taking it. I feel the empty box tells passers-by, "Demand for that newspaper is so great they can't keep it in the boxes!"
Besides, as an employee I always welcome any addition to the paper's income…
Special People Dept.
Jane Carles, formerly of Baton Rouge, now in Birmingham, Alabama, celebrated her 97th birthday Sunday, Oct 4.
Mary Vernoy, of Metairie, says, "Donald Landaiche’s story of exploding root beer reminded me of a similar story.
"When I was growing up in California, my parents used to make and bottle home brew in the bathtub. My father would pour it into glass quart bottles, cap it, and store it in the garage.
"Unlike beer made by today’s scientific methods, these bottles would periodically 'blow their top.'
"Playing with my friends in the yard, we got used to hearing 'Pow!' coming from the garage:
“'There goes another beer!'”