I don't remember where I had my first Chipotle burrito, and that's the point. I was too busy eating it. I do remember the careful ritual: peeling off rounds of foil, a quick visual examination followed by a dash of Tabasco. The first expectant bite, then another, then another. Setting the burrito down to chew and sip some water. Being hurried but unworried. Feasting like a predator.
The appeal, the process, is so terribly masculine. Don't get me wrong: I've sat alongside many lovely ladies in Chipotles across the country. I would have spoken to them if we hadn't each been in flagrante delicto with our own head-sized fresh-Mex fiestas. At bars and diners, you'll fall into idle chitchat with truck drivers and down-and-outers, boasting or complaining between sips. At the burrito restaurant, you eat. It's understood.
It is a simple act of provision, following the male instinct to pack as
much utility as possible into a simple delivery method. the New Burrito
isn't like a taco or an enchilada. It is something you hold in your
hands, like a tool. This is a burrito you don't want covered in cheese
or sauce on a plate, because to do so would be to confine it, to dress
it up in fancy clothing and display it, to delay its use.
of course, can eat and love burritos -- just as men should enjoy good
haircuts or pumpkin-spiced lattes in sweater weather. But be honest with
yourself. Evolutionarily speaking, a female who is presented with a
warm, organic object of devotion -- in the approximate shape of a
swaddled newborn -- is not going to be genetically predisposed to eat
For decades, fast-food face-stuffing has been criticized by a
smaller movement of slow-food advocates, people like Alice Waters and
Mark Bittman, who urge us to share a meal with our families, to lovingly
craft our food from good ingredients and lay them out on a table, taking
care in the presentation. We should stop, taste, sip, and savor.
is great advice that everybody should follow. It's brought me a great
deal of personal pleasure when I cook and share good food with friends.
It's also a practice that would be entirely lost in a dystopian all-male
The promise of the New Burrito is that we can have it
both ways. In those coy, approving glances at a partially eaten burrito,
you see flecks of fresh tomato and crisp, green lettuce. You see a
pocket of fresh guacamole or a mound of cheese promising savory
fulfillment. It's designed for the modern man: sensitive to ingredients,
aware of consequences. Responsible. But still damned hungry.
wasn't the first to package the burrito as a hands-on, no-problemo
fill-up food, but the company's appeal realigned our expectations.
Mexican restaurants that used to specialize in more traditional fare
began slinging extra-large flour tortillas, wrapping them in wax paper
or foil, and dropping them into a bag. I've eaten burritos with charred
and flattened tortillas and steamed, pliable ones. I've eaten brown rice
and white rice and cilantro-lime rice. (I've also complained, on many
occasions, about the Too Much Rice epidemic.) I've had grated cheese and
melted cheese and queso, guacamole that's included or costs $1.65. I've
had salsa thrown into yellow paper bags and spooned out my own at
salsa bars. Options vary by city and attract customers based on routes
home from work or weekend bicycle rides or word of mouth.
of word of mouth. All this variety leads to many opinions, based on
different personalities. Just as we argue politics or fantasy football
picks, we feel a personal attachment to our chosen food delivery method.
It is, after all, a vital and intimate relationship. Perhaps we know
our burritos better than we know ourselves.