I have to admit that when it comes to new, interesting, or “controversial” food ideas, I’m pretty much fair game. Monkfish liver? You bet! Elk tongue with deep fried okra and shallot confit? Pile it on! Horsehair crab, with a side of tuna tartare and white truffles? Hell yeah! So when I heard of Kumas – a burger joint in Chicago’s North Side that crafted burgers named and designed after popular heavy metal bands – my interest and appetite were definitely piqued.
Then I discovered their latest creation, the Ghost Burger: a 10 ounce burger served on a pretzel bun with braised goat shoulder(!!), aged white cheddar, Ghost chili aioli, topped with a red wine reduction and unconsecrated Communion wafer. It’s named after the Swedish band Ghost B.C. and goes for $17.
Kuma’s names all of its specialty burgers after metal bands. Ghost B.C. is known for its secretive nature, with its musicians wearing hooded robes while the singer appears in skull makeup and dresses as a Roman Catholic cardinal.
There’s a video of the band on their pain page along with a recipe for the burger. Personally, I think I’d enjoy the latter a lot more than the former, but my musical tastes don’t really wander into the world of metal that much.
I wonder if the side salad has figs and a mustard dressing? That would certainly be fitting with the biblical theme … but Kuma’s owners assure the public that it’s not an attack on or a critique of religion, but a tribute to a cool metal band. Even with that explanation, it’s not unexpected to learn that some Christians were offended by it. I can kind of understand, since they are using actual Communion wafers. Even if they aren’t consecrated, the simple fact of it being there at all is enough to get some people upset.
“It’s not the Eucharist, but it’s still symbolic,” [Jeff Young of the Catholic Foodie Blog] said. “For us as Catholics, the Eucharist is more than a symbol, it’s a sacrament. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that symbols aren’t important. … It is a mockery of something that is holy. The same thing could be said of the band itself.”
As I said, the idea was to make a “tribute” burger, not slam religion; however, I imagine they must have thought they’d invite some negative feedback when honoring a band that sings about praising Luficer. That said, I do think that though it’s unfortunate that some people are offended by the idea, that shouldn’t be enough of a reason to keep them from doing it in the first place. Our society, in all its modernity, still tends to treat religion as if the amount of time it’s been around combined with the depth of belief people have in it somehow makes it immune from scrutiny or skepticism. (Just look at the allowances for “religious exemptions” and you’ll see what I mean.) We might be a little better off if we more often take the stance that no one of any faith – or absence thereof – has the right not to be offended, since not everyone shares the same beliefs.
I also want to emphasize that some people thought it went too far, but dealt with it politely, rationally, and with pretty level heads. As far as I know, there were no death threats, physical attacks, acts of vandalism, or riots in the streets (Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, I’m looking in your direction …) and overall, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. It’s a shame that I’m not in the area, otherwise I’d stop by for a bite. Wafer aside, it genuinely looks like a good burger.