Thursday, July 15, 2010

Politics and Pork Chops

13 E. Martin St.
Raleigh, NC
Visited July 12, 2010

Beer Selection: You can order a long neck Bud if you need one, but this isn’t a beer drinking kinda place.

Food: Stick with the Southern cooked vegetables.

Unlike most places I visit, suits fit right in at Mecca.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

Mecca is no fancy high falutin hoity-toity expense account steak house or anything. Just the opposite. Down home, old, kinda shabby. Just my kind of place.

The suits can be attributed to the location – two blocks from the North Carolina State Capitol.

You see, there are only four types of people left in the world who wear suits: politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and preachers. On Monday during the lunch rush, Mecca was busting at the seams with three of the four.

I crammed my 6’3’’ body between one of the stools and the lunch counter. When this place was built 80 years ago, apparently people were all midgets.

I immediately noticed the large selection of hot blond lobbyists in short skirts. I wonder why lobbying firms who feed at the government trough hire so many of them? Hmmmm?

The next thing I noticed was the portrait of FDR smirking down at me above the pitchers of sweet tea and canned tomatoes. Was he smirking because the American socialism he helped to establish 80 years ago was now spreading out of control into every aspect of our lives like kudzu on a North Carolina red dirt hillside?

Or was he just hungry?

Prominently displayed, on the back of every check, which is hand-written and placed face down along side every meal, is a quote from the man who started Mecca in 1930, Nicholas Dombalis: “He profits most who serves best”.

Apparently Mr. D had no sense of irony, I thought, as I glared up at FDR and plowed through my plate of pork chops, buttered okra and squash casserole.

The current president, a direct ideological descendent of FDR, has a slightly altered motto: “He profits most who serves worst – at the expense of the guy who serves best.” Reward failure. Punish productivity. Who would even open a small business like Mecca today under this regime?

This is the second time I’ve eaten at Mecca. And I wish I could say the meals are great.

But they just aren’t.

The vegetables are outstanding. You know vegetables are southern-good when you feel guilty eating them. They didn’t taste the least bit healthy – the highest compliment I can give to a vegetable. The pork chop on the other hand was dry, tough and tasteless. Same verdict on the fried pork tenderloin.

So don’t come to Mecca for outstanding cuisine. But do come for the nostalgic atmosphere. And the antique manual cash register. And Mr. Dombalis’ daughter-in-law, who still mans it and cheerfully collects your money by the door.

For history and southern culture, Mecca’s hard to beat.

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