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Burritos: They're Not for Women

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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.

Women,

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

it.

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.

This

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

society.

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.

Chipotle

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.

A lot

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.

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