Guilty Pleasure Redefined

Last night I went to the opening party for my cousin Ilan Hall’s new restaurant, “The Gorbals”, in downtown Los Angeles (  Located inside the historic Alexandria Hotel, on the corner of Spring and 5th, the place has a certain cheeky sacrilegious quality about it.  I would expect nothing less from a member of the family.

The restaurant is just the latest feather in Ilan’s cap, which includes nothing less than winning season 2 of Top Chef.  It is funny for me to think of him as a celebrity, though.  He’s just my wee cousin from New York, a little titch of a thing who has now done us all proud.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant, the party was in full swing.  Most people were crowding around the open kitchen, where Ilan was cooking up an assortment of delectable treats for all, including the pièce de résistance, the “Bacon Wrapped Matzo Ball”.

Ok, I have to be honest.  When Ilan first told me about his intention of serving bacon wrapped matzo balls, a part of me shuddered.  The sacrilege.  The profanity.  The ungodly wrongness of it.  So of course I had to try one.

There might be room for the whole “what size should a matzo ball be” debate, but I’m not going to bother.  What was presented to me simply looked right on the plate.  A perfect sphere of Jewish tradition encased within that greatest of all Kosher law blasphemies: Bacon.  It’s just so wrong.  And yet, so enticing.  Oh, the defiance.  The contradiction.  The struggle.  My mind reeled at the nerve of it all even as my hand lifted the irreverent delight to my mouth.  I took a bite.

First, the crispy resistance of the bacon.  Then, the gentle yielding of the succulent matzo ball.  The saltiness of both merge, and the universe vanishes in a puff of smoke.  At least any notion of a Judaic-Christian one.  How can these two diametric opposites coexist in the same space?  And yet they do.  My stomach is proof.  And I am floored.  Everything I have been led to believe about the world is proven wrong in an instant.  Coexistence is possible.  Enemies shall become bosom buddies.  Mutual acceptance conquers all.

Is this the road to world peace?  It might be.  All I know is that I’ll be back at “The Gorbals” when it officially opens next week to explore this existential crisis further.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

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