Burritos: They're Not for Women
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.