Kuma's Corner is a small, nine table burger joint in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood. It's a heavy metal-oriented high end burger sort of place, where the burgers with interesting toppings have names like Goatsnake and Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. But it's their newest burger, Ghost, that has brought them some notoriety.
Named for the Swedish doom metal band Ghost BC, who dress in skullface and Catholic Cardinal outfits, the Ghost burger contains a couple of unique ingredients: it's covered in a wine reduction that represents the Blood of Christ and is garnished with a real communion wafer, representing of course the Body of Christ. The inclusion of one of the holiest Catholic sacraments on a burger has, predictably, led to outrage.
Technically the burger isn't blasphemous. The wine and wafer are just wine and wafer until a priest transubstantiates them into the real thing (and yes, technically Catholics are eating flesh and drinking blood. Divine mysteries of the faith, y'all!). One time my altar boy friend stole some wafers from the rectory at Our Lady Queen of Peace church in Queens and we threw them in the sewer and nothing bad happened, because they had not yet been magically transmogrified into Christ. They were just wafers, and the wafers Kuma's is using are just flavorless white thins. The symology is heavy, though, and the restaraunt has come under fire.
My favorite reaction comes from an Irish Catholic chef commenting on a Chicago Tribune article about the dust-up:
"I'm a thick skinned Irish Catholic - I'm hard pressed to be offended by any derogatory name calling, stereotypical ethnic mocking or desecration of religious symbols. Those attempts to get a rise out of me are always ineffective. HOWEVER, as a Chef, I have to say that adding a dry, tasteless wafer that turns to paste in your mouth as a garnish to an otherwise delicious hamburger breaks every sacred culinary covenant that I hold dear. Don't add anything to a dish that doesn't improve it. Shame on you Kuma's Corner....you should know better."
Communion wafer really doesn't belong on a food because it is too dry and pasty. But the blasphemy of the whole thing is very metal. If I were in Chicago I would totally be hitting Kuma's and trying one for myself. I would also try a High On Fire burger, which is doused in Sriiracha, and boasts chili paste and grilled pineapple. Sounds awesome.
As for the rest of the Ghost burger? It sounds pretty fucking good, if you can see past the wafer:
10 oz. patty
Slow braised goat shoulder
Aged white cheddar
Ghost chile aioli
Red wine reduction
Communion wafer garnish
Any Chicago readers - are you willing to tempt the fires of Hell to try this burger? Go to Kuma's Corner and let us know what you think of it.