Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pilgrimage with Brown Gravy

For many, intense devotion leads to pilgrimage.   With a singular focus, the faithful travel long distances to bow in reverence and pay homage.  And so, today my family made our journey, our pilgrimage, all the way to Chalmette and the 'Mecca of Macaroni.'  With our fast underway (well, since breakfast), we headed to a place so sacred that it could only exist in a parish named after a saint.

At Rocky & Carlo's in St. Bernard Parish ("Da Parish"), life is really quite simple.  There are no deep issues, smoldering grievances, or political ploys.  It all  boils down to this:  red gravy or brown gravy.  You either go one way or the other.  No one is 'bi' gravy at Rocky's.  For me?  Sliced Roast with brown gravy on my macaroni.  My husband?  Definitely red gravy.  My kids?  Hamburgers.  I know... I'm sure they should go to confession for that.

You've got to love a place like this.  I mean, heck, Ladies are invited... it says so right on the window!  And, better yet, Father Time and the Surgeon General have passed them by.  You can go in, order a WOP salad and no one is offended in the least.  And I guarantee you that an entree for "one" is only truly "for one" if that "one" is Andre The Giant.

The patrons? They're part of the feast!  There's the lady all dolled up in sequins - at lunch.  She's seated one table down from the men who are covered in paint  - a reflection of the area's ongoing recovery from Katrina.  Then there's the 'newbies' (read: tourists) trying to decipher the menu beside those who, by the size of their jeans, have been to Rocky's a little too often.  Then there's the two deaf guys, signing away (with 'yat' accents, I suppose?) who had ordered poboys for lunch.  No worries about talking and eating at the same time, I guess.

All I know is, I am grateful that I can sit at Rocky & Carlo's and enjoy something so much more than lunch with my kids.  I can tell them stories of when I used to go there with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. It's a chance to share part of my family history and our area's culture and heritage.  And, the way we've been losing local icons in the last decade or two, I'm just glad Rocky's is still here!

Wherever you live, there is a 'Rocky & Carlo's' - a small, family-owned restaurant with the grease and smoke of generations clinging to the ceiling tiles.  (And I mean that in the best possible way!)  So, the next time you and your kids get hungry, take a drive to the old neighborhood, right past the chain restaurants and fast food joints.  In times like this, the little family joints could really use the business and, besides, they've got real food.  If eating has a religion, each one is a cathedral.

Questions?  Comments?  Please email me at

P.S. 'Hola' to my new friends in Columbia!

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