“Texas isn’t just beans and barbecue,” says neighborhood cookbook writer Joanne Smith. Texas foods come from a variety of cultures, from Lebanese (Smith’s background) to Polish, and the 64-year-old Smith explores the gamut in her third book – “Cuisine, Texas: A Multiethnic Feast” – published recently.

Smith interviewed people from throughout the state in researching this book. She tells their stories and gives their recipes.

“I’ve always been interested in where people come from,” Smith says. “I want to know what they are bringing to the pot.

“I started talking to people in my own age bracket because they have grandparents who came to this country. I felt as inspired by the people as I did by the recipes.

“I have a thing about writing to keep people company in the kitchen. It can’t just be recipes. Recipes are a dime a dozen.”

Smith says she has enjoyed writing since she was a child. She learned to cook while living in Argentina during the early 1960s, where both her children were born. Later, she briefly lived in England, and in 1968, she returned to East Dallas, where she grew up.

It was natural to combine her love for writing, travel and cooking into a freelance career, she says.

Smith writes articles about food, shopping and travel for newspapers and magazines. The Dallas Morning News and Texas Highways are two of the publications for which she has worked. She is currently writing a children’s story and trying her hand at a novel.

Her other books are the “Texas Highways Cookbook,” first published in 1986; and “The Adolphus Cookbook,” which is now out of print.

Smith says no one food is her favorite, but she prefers light, classic dishes from any culture. When she wants to impress people, she says she sticks to her roots and cooks Lebanese food.

Food presentation is just as important to her as taste, she says. If a meal has an ethnic theme, that theme should be carried through from appetizer to dessert, she says. The chef also should pay attention to colors and textures for the meal to be visually appealing, she says.

“You can always have a colorful napkin,” she says. “If the food is bland looking, you can use a colorful plate. It doesn’t take much to do things with flare.”

Smith is married to Woodrow Wilson High School graduate Jack Smith, whom she started dating at age 14. She attended Ursuline Academy when the school was located at Bryan and Haskell. She transferred to a boarding school when Ursuline moved out of the neighborhood and graduated from SMU in 1952.

NEWS & NOTES

Free Health Screenings at Fair: Baylor Senior Health Centers will provide complimentary health screenings for glaucoma, lung infection and overall wellness from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily during the State Fair at Grand Place during the State Fair at Grand Place through Oct. 20. Each day at 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 p.m., speakers will give educational talks. Mondays the topic is nutrition; Tuesdays, wellness; Wednesdays, chronic diseases; Thursdays, Medicare and insurance; Fridays, medications; Saturdays, caretaker concerns; and Sundays, senior safety. For information, call 1-800-4-BAYLOR. State Fair admission is free to seniors Thursdays Oct. 3, Oct. 10 and Oct. 17.

Coping with Loss: Doctors, Hospital, 9440 Poppy at Buckner, will hold free seminars about “Coping with Loss During the Holidays” Oct. 30 and Nov.2 as part of its on-going SeniorSafe program. The sessions will start at 10 a.m. in Doctors’ West Tower Conference Center, Suites 206-207. Call 324-6640 to register.

Free Oral Cancer Screenings: Baylor University dental students will visit the White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Diceman at Lakeview Christian Church, from 10:15 a.m.-noon Oct. 24 to conduct free oral cancer screenings for senior citizens. Call 328-4863.

LUNCHEONS

AARP Explores American Folklore: The American Association of Retired Persons, Ridgewood Park Chapter No. 3787, will meet at 10 a.m. Oct. 24 at Ridgewood Park United Methodist Church, 6645 E. Lovers. The program is “American Folklore.” Lunch will be served for $1.50 per person. As its community project, the chapter also is collecting donations for the Wilkinson Center, which provides needy families with food, clothes and other necessary items. Call Dorthea Sooby at 827-6678.

Daily Low-Cost Dining: The White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Diceman, serves lunch at noon weekdays to people age 60 and older. A contribution of 60 cents is suggested for each meal. Reservations must be called in the day before by noon at 328-4863.

The Brady Center, 4009 Elm, also serves lunch weekdays to people age 60 and older at noon. A financial contribution for each meal is requested. Diners must be at the center no later than 11:30 a.m. The center also serves a hot breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Transportation is available for regular attendants in the center’s service area. Call 826-8330.

BINGO

Shepherd Center Fund-raiser: The Greater Lakewood Shepherd Center, a non-profit organization that provides programs for older adults, hosts a bingo fund-raiser Oct. 11 at the Lakewood Country Club, Gaston and Abrams. The event will also include silent and live auctions.

Bingo admission costs $5 in advance for two cards or $6 at the door for two cards. Blackout cards cost an additional $1 per card, and the Blackout prize is $100. An optional buffet will be available for $12. The buffet is served at 6 p.m., and bingo starts at 6:45 p.m. Ticket purchases and buffet reservations can be made by calling 823-2583.

TALENT SHOW

An Exhibit of Unusual Talents: The White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Diceman, is holding its first unusual talent show at 11 a.m. Oct. 18 for seniors with out-of-the-ordinary abilities. Anyone can enter. Prizes are available. Call 328-4863.

CONTINUED EDUCATION

A Learning Adventure: The Greater Lakewood Shepherd Center offers the fall semester of its “Adventures in Learning” program for senior citizens age 55 and older from Oct. 4-Nov. 22. This program offers a variety of classes, including book reviews, Bible study, history, art, music, current events, exercise, bridge, drama, financial planning and foreign languages. The fall session also will feature courses on the 1996 election and on the writing of memoirs. Classes are held from 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m. Fridays at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 3204 Skillman. “Adventures in Learning” is offered four times a year, and each semester is eight weeks long. Cost is $17. To register, call 823-2583.

HALLOWEEN

Neighborhood Party: The White Rock Senior Center, 9100 Diceman, is holding a Halloween party Oct. 31 for residents age 60 and older. The party starts at 11 a.m. and will have plenty of games, prizes and refreshments. Call 328-4863.