The Bratl – A Pork Whore’s Bliss


In her famous book The Art of Eating, in the essay titled “Serve It Forth,” my literary food idol MFK Fisher writes:

“And sensible and kind she remains, although in her directions for Roast Pig she betrays some of that tenderness for sucklings which is even more notable in large men. My father, for instance, who flees sentimentality like the black pox, confesses that one of the loveliest things he has ever seen was—not a sunrise, not a sweet lass naked—was a litter of new piglets, pink and dainty.”

It is the perfect description of a Pork Whore—and I only know this all too well because I am wholeheartedly one of them. Although I can appreciate the desires evoked by sunsets and naked women, it’s a succulent piece of pork that gives me true shivers. And most likely, the particular pork dish I would choose at the moment is the Bratl crafted with an uncanny flair by my favorite Austrian Chef Bernhard Mairinger at his downtown Los Angeles snack shop BierBeisl Imbiss.

The Bratl is an exquisitely sinful sandwich consisting of either a short, round or long oblong home-baked pretzel bun. On one half of the bread sits three plump lengths of pork belly slab, fried to a crispy exterior around a meaty middle. On top of the high class bacon, sits piled a daintily-strung coleslaw, its dressing as appealing as cold milk on a torrid day, studded with seeds of caraway. A swath of good rustic mustard lines the lower bun lending a perfect, subtle tang. The soft innards of a few dill pickles are strung across the entire composition in flimsy ribbons of flavor that weave the whole thing together. I am always too full to finish the sandwich, yet somehow I always manage to anyway. It is a good thing I don’t live close by—otherwise, I would very quickly acquire my very own pork belly.

And, as if you needed anymore derogatory evidence of what a flat out pig slut I can be, I will relate a funny thing that happened while I ate my Bratl alongside my lunch guest who was equally oohing and aahing over her lingonberry studded schnitzel across the table. At one point in the meal, loud sirens started to blare and lights started to flash in the Spring Street Arcade building which houses the restaurant. A voice over the loud speaker started speaking in ominous tones telling all of us inhabitants to clear the area as their had been a major emergency. I still don’t know if there was an emergency or not. All I know is that we briefly looked around at each other—Chef Mairinger in the open kitchen, my guest, the other beer drinking businessmen and myself and then promptly, communally shrugged and dived right back into our food. It is just that good.