The Chronicle apologizes for the error
November 2, 2018 7:39 AM   Subscribe

 
I was just telling one of my kids the other day about how little "ethnic" food was available when I was growing up in the 70s and early 80s. (1983 high school graduate.) When pita bread first became available in supermarkets where I lived in Michigan, when I was in high school, it was labeled "pocket bread," I suspect because calling it pita bread would have scared off us white people.

This article has that same feel. Wow! Burritos! White people take note!
posted by Orlop at 7:47 AM on November 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


The burrito Chronicles
posted by growabrain at 7:47 AM on November 2, 2018


This is truly something. I grew up in SF but after this article and i have to say one of the more offensive parts that was not remotely Jerry Burns' fault is that these burritos arent wrapped in foil. what gives?

Moving to MN for college and finding goddamn pasta and tomato sauce in the "ethnic" aisle at the local grocery chain was a whole 'nother trip.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:50 AM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


Not only had Jerry Burns never seen a burrito before, he'd also presumably never seen a donkey.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:54 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


If the boom grows, the burrito may soon join such traditional American favorites as chow mein, chicken soup, pizza and the frankfurter.”

Racists and anti-Semitic! If he had thrown in a backhanded comment about women, he coulda had a trifecta.
posted by Frayed Knot at 8:00 AM on November 2, 2018


he trend away from tacos and toward burritos is nationwide, according to officials of the huge Taco Bell chain.

Taco Bell burritos could be described as rectangular! This was ad copy for Taco Bell!
posted by muddgirl at 8:03 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


the burrito may soon join such traditional American favorites as chow mein, chicken soup, pizza and the frankfurter.

I have eaten my weight in shitty American Chinese food many times over but I have never once eaten chow mein. Is that actually a thing that people eat? I was seven years old in 1977 and my family hadn't yet branched out to exotic foods like tacos and chicken fingers but was chow mein the Chinese food of choice in 1977?
posted by bondcliff at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The "rectangle" thing makes a bit more sense if you look at the photo that accompanies the article it's clear that a lot more tortilla is being used there compared to the modern Urban Food Log. In fact, I seem to recall that the burritos in the Taco Bell stand at our Student Union in the 90s used the rectangular form as well.

P.S: U+1F32F 🌯 BURRITO
P.P.S: Sesame Street Tortilla Contest
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2018


Londoners of a certain generation will talk of the days when olive oil in the UK was only sold at pharmacies, as a skin treatment. So you'd have to stop by Boots to get the last ingredient for just about any recipe I can think of these days.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:09 AM on November 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


Problem #1 with the original article: that burrito clearly does not weigh 10 kilos (newly adjusted kilo) as they do in the present day.
posted by NoMich at 8:10 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


That time the NYT discovered bubble tea
posted by BungaDunga at 8:10 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rectangles are a cool food shape in my opinion, and making burritos into bricks would improve them. There isn't really that much rectangular food - but the ones that are like sheetcake and brownies are generally pretty popular. Even wafer cookies. Institutional Jello might be the only exception..

I have never once eaten chow mein. Is that actually a thing that people eat?
It's really just shorthand for Asian noodles not served in broth. You've probably had it before, but just called it something else.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:10 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


"Chicken soup" is ethnic? I figured that basically everybody who has chicken and water has chicken soup. Wikipedia lists 25 countries that have chicken soup from all over the world.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:15 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


"Burrito" literally means "small donkey" so it is completely understandable that someone who had just discovered the venerable foodstuff in 1977 would make that presumption re: the naming origin.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:15 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I prefer exploded microwave burritos to 3lb rice-laden monstrosities

don't @ me
posted by uncleozzy at 8:20 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


I have never once eaten chow mein. Is that actually a thing that people eat?
It's really just shorthand for Asian noodles not served in broth. You've probably had it before, but just called it something else.


Ok so this is VERY MUCH not true everywhere - drunk college me once ordered chow mein from the only delivery option in St Paul at the time and got a quart container of some nasty brown gravy full up of bean sprouts and onions . . . which was meant to be eaten with rice. here on the east coast i see lo mein pretty universally to mean what I was raised on in SF calling chow mein.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:21 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Everyone knows lo mein is made with dragon fire.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:25 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


That dragon has the voice of the Muppet Rolf!
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:28 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


That dragon has the voice of the Muppet Rolf!

Which is Jim Henson, isn't it?

here on the east coast i see lo mein pretty universally to mean what I was raised on in SF calling chow mein.

Ok, yeah. I've eaten lo mein. Here it's like pork fried rice using thin noodles instead of rice.
posted by bondcliff at 8:31 AM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


it's like pork fried rice using thin noodles instead of rice.

Yep, thats the stuff.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:35 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]




There is an old article in Mad Magazine by Dave Berg in 1958. It talks about the weird new ethnic food fad that's sweeping the country, popping up everywhere. It was impossible to eat without making a mess all over your charcoal grey suit, and was so hot and spicy that you were guaranteed heartburn unless you had a cast iron digestive tract. It even speculated about what would happen when the fad inevitably died out.

It was about the "Pizza Pie".
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:53 AM on November 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


when I was in high school, it was labeled "pocket bread," I suspect because calling it pita bread would have scared off us white people.

Fleet-A-Pita!
Helen: Hmm, Pita. Well, I don't know about food from the Middle East. Isn't that whole area a little iffy?
Hostess: [laughs] Hey, I'm no geographer. You and I -- why don't we call it pocket bread, huh?
Maude: [reading the ingredients list] Umm, what's tahini?
Hostess: Flavor sauce.
Edna: And falafel?
Hostess: Crunch patties.
Helen: So, we'd be selling foreign...
Hostess: Specialty foods. Here, try a Ben Franklin.
Helen: [takes a bite] Mmm, that is good. What's in it?
Chef: [poking his head out of a window, looking of Indian origin] Tabbouleh and rezmi-kabob.
Hostess: [trying to cover-up] Uh, th-that's our chef... Christopher.
posted by Fizz at 8:56 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


"Chicken soup" is ethnic? I figured that basically everybody who has chicken and water has chicken soup. Wikipedia lists 25 countries that have chicken soup from all over the world.

I agree, meat in broth is one of the oldest foods there is - to the point it can't reasonably be said to come from any specific place. I have the same problem with grits being sold as a dish from the American South. No, ground grains made into a porridge is pretty much a staple food no matter where you go.
posted by FakeFreyja at 9:06 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of a story Jay Leno told in his book "Leading With My Chin" about dining in a hole in the wall diner in Arizona back in the 1970s. A sign on the restaurant wall proudly advertised "Pizza! The newest taste treat! You can eat it with your hands!"
posted by Servo5678 at 9:14 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have eaten my weight in shitty American Chinese food many times over but I have never once eaten chow mein. Is that actually a thing that people eat?

Yes! Despite growing up in an area that was and is well-known for "authentic" Chinese food, I used to love it when my dad would take me to China Cafe in Grand Central Market with its menu from the 1950s. I've heard that it closed, which is sad because it was a great place to pretend to be a hard-boiled detective while listening to mariachis.

No comment on the article because I don't recognize those bricks they sell in SF as burritos.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:17 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


There's a chain in the Boston area, Clover, that inexplicably refers to their falafels as "chickpea fritters". But only in a sandwich or platter. The side order of the exact same item is sold as "side of felafel".

It seemed pretty clear to me that the original article was referring to pressed or grilled burritos when describing them as "rectangular". It's definitely a shape that some burritos have. The pictures are pretty washed out, but I could plausibly see those particular burritos being described as rectangular.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:18 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


It was about the "Pizza Pie".

I like the joke line "then anchovies, mushrooms, peppers, sausages, or onions are needed to kill the taste of the previous ingredients". While technically the previous ingredients to that panel are "dough, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce" I assume the joke is actually referencing anchovies and mushrooms and peppers, which have fallen out of favor somewhat as pizza ingredients.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:22 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's definitely a shape that some burritos have

"So what I told you is true... from a certain point of view."
— Obi-Wan Burrito
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:27 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


WAIT, I just realized that, while no-one would ever call a taqueria "a Mexican McDonalds," they might ignorantly call Taco Bell "the Mexican McDonalds"!!!! I feel like I've really cracked this case of Pepsi Blue.

It's definitely interesting to see pictures of burritos before "Mission-style" overstuffed monstrosities became so ubiquitous.
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


(I mean, I've had the "traditional" taqueria-style burrito in several places, but news articles seem to really favor pictures of a grotesquely overflowing tortilla).
posted by muddgirl at 9:35 AM on November 2, 2018


No rice, goddamit.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:35 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


No rice, goddamit.

Darn tootin'. When I moved to SF I hated burritos until went to La Taqueria and had one that seemed magically different. The difference? No rice. It's just filler, people!
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:38 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


ok, the difference at La Taq is getting your shit "dorado style" but the no-rice is a solid benefit.

I have very very strong feelings about burritos. My childhood favorite spot burned down in the last couple years and every time im back and i remember i cant get one there it makes my heart hurt a little bit. RIP el gran taco loco.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:42 AM on November 2, 2018


There's a midwesternized Mexican place my family has taken me to occasionally which refers to their red chile sauce as gravy. I was rather nervous about what I'd actually be getting the first time I ordered off their menu.
posted by ckape at 9:47 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


The weird thing about describing a burrito as a "short, fat rectangle" is that rectangles are two dimensional. And a big fat burrito is anything but flat. Looking straight down on a burrito it does have a rectangular cross section. But it's so obviously a cylinder or torpedo or geez, even submarine-shaped. Very odd writing.

As for the etymology of burrito, it's inescapable the word is the diminutive of burro. The question is why that's the word for the food. It seems very unlikely that it's because this submarine-shaped thing looks like a donkey. Other explanations are it looks like a donkey's ears, or a pack on a donkey's back, or that a man on a burro used to sell burritos, or that the generous stuffing of a burrito is poetically related to how donkeys carry lots of things. Folk etymology is boundless in its diversity.

The article in this post links to this reddit discussion of the etymology of burrito which is largely useless but does have a link to this 1895 usage of the word. Here's a scan of the original document. That has an interesting second definition, "maíz que, al tostarse, revienta en forma de rosa". I think that's popcorn?

(I'm not going to fight you folks who want no rice, but FWIW it's the rice that makes it a typical San Francisco Mission-style Burrito. That's our defining characteristic. When I feel like having a little strange I go for the San Diego / California style with french fries instead of rice.)
posted by Nelson at 9:49 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have the same problem with grits being sold as a dish from the American South. No, ground grains made into a porridge is pretty much a staple food no matter where you go.

I mean, sure. But grits are a porridge specifically made from corn, a New World crop, so it is definitely from the Americas. By origin, however, it should rightly be considered a Native American recipe.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:56 AM on November 2, 2018 [8 favorites]


FWIW it's the rice that makes it a typical San Francisco Mission-style Burrito. That's our defining characteristic.

What? No. Every single burrito I've ever had, no matter where it was in the USA, had rice in it. Don't get me wrong, SF burritos are the best burritos and there is no comparison, but rice is most definitely not the reason.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:05 AM on November 2, 2018


It was about the "Pizza Pie".

Well if a taco is a sandwich then a pizza is a burrito, more or less.
posted by iamnotangry at 10:05 AM on November 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Corn grits are a thing. Real grits—or True Grits as John Wayne might eat—are made from hominy. We get more nutrients from corn that has been nixtamalized.
posted by phrits at 10:07 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


SF burritos are the best burritos

No, they're really really not. They're steamy glutinous masses, poorly prepared, poorly packaged and inappropriately proud of it. They're practically "wraps" that just feature too much extra rice and condensation.
posted by aramaic at 10:27 AM on November 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


Outside of SF most people at fast-casual mission-style burrito places just get a burrito bowl because the tortillas are crap and they just want the 2 lbs of filling. By contrast, a thick, soft, handmade flour tortilla burrito with a proportionate amount of rice and beans is the best hangover cure every invented.
posted by muddgirl at 10:33 AM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I had a burrito for dinner last night but this thread has me craving one again already. I have no burro in this fight though:

regular burrito: yes
mission style with rice and too much stuff: yes!
small grilled (and kinda retangle-y) that they serve in Mexico: yes!!!

they're all good burritos, Bront
posted by supermedusa at 10:46 AM on November 2, 2018 [17 favorites]


Pizza pie
posted by RobotHero at 11:03 AM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I had a super burrito at Taqueria el Farolito over a year ago that I still think about daily. That's all I have to add to this post.
posted by General Malaise at 11:05 AM on November 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


When I moved back to Canada from the Bay Area I pretty much gave up on Mexican food when I went to a taco place, ordered a burrito, and it somehow managed to taste exactly like the ones you'd get at Whole Foods' deli.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:11 AM on November 2, 2018


Look how small the burritos are in those photos. Lynn Moreno in the 2nd photo can wrap her entire hand around the burrito! Nowadays it seems like you can't get a burrito without being the size of your head and completely bursting at the seems. I say enough with this burrito inflation.
posted by capricorn at 11:12 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


When my sister moved to Berkeley a bunch of acquaintances raved to me about how now I would get the chance to eat Mission burritos but I only made that mistake once.

Come to Tucson, we will serve you delicious burritos with no rice, the best tortillas in the world, and with refried beans instead of whole (another abomination in a burrito.)

My sister buys a big bag of tortillas to take home to Berkeley every time she visits here, because she says the tortillas in the Bay Area are that unacceptable.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:13 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


Every single burrito I've ever had, no matter where it was in the USA, had rice in it.

Then you've missed a lot of the different styles of burritos.
posted by Lexica at 11:29 AM on November 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


SF burritos are the best burritos

No, they're really really not. They're steamy glutinous masses, poorly prepared, poorly packaged and inappropriately proud of it. They're practically "wraps" that just feature too much extra rice and condensation.
Pistols at dawn.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


the rough dimensions of a legless manatee pup

tasty little rectangle


Loving these descriptions.
posted by aniola at 11:43 AM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


It never occurred to me that there were people who actively disliked SF-style burritos, but that's me being naive. It takes all sorts, as they say.

That said, here is grumpybear69's ultimate SF burrito:

chorizo
cheese
avocado (not guacamole)
whole pinto beans
salsa fresca
one big-ass flour tortilla

YUM.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:26 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, it's amusing to ponder the fact that the ur-burrito, the bean-and-cheese, is something most non-Mexican Americans will only encounter at Taco Bell these days.

I like the elaborate burritos with a wide variety of fillings just fine, but for the most part they really are just too damned big.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:31 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


This article was written around the time my parents came to San Francisco. My city has weathered many indignities since then but i will NOT SUFFER THESE INSULTS TO SF BURRITOS
posted by sunset in snow country at 12:32 PM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I grew up in California, but my mom grew up in upstate New York in a 99% white town, and I used to ask her to tell me the story of when she first saw a burrito in 1972 in college so I could laugh and laugh.
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:38 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


The best burrito is made at an unnamed stand down the street from me and contains charred meat, beans, cheese, onions, and salsa.
posted by scose at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Chicken soup" is ethnic? I figured that basically everybody who has chicken and water has chicken soup. Wikipedia lists 25 countries that have chicken soup from all over the world.

Chicken soup was once coded as Jewish.
posted by Automocar at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


>“But grits are a porridge specifically made from corn, a New World crop, so it is definitely from the Americas. By origin, however, it should rightly be considered a Native American recipe.”

Not just that, but hominy grits are specifically from the Muskogee in the now-southeastern US. Grits must be made by:
1) Drying maize
2) Nixtamalizing (cooking with lye or other basic solution)
3) Drying again
4) Grinding
5) Cooking again

This is a very particular sequence of steps and hardly obvious. There are lots of possibilities: skip step 4 to get hominy porridge as per Jamaica, grind so finely you get flour instead of grits for atole, grind while wet to get fresh masa for tortillas, etc. Thus, hominy grits should truly be considered a regional food, historically and currently, of the southeast.
posted by Maecenas at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


Human civilization reached its zenith in 1975 when Tia Sophia's in Santa Fe invented the breakfast burrito.
posted by peeedro at 2:36 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Stone-ground grits are the best. If you can't get those, substitute with polenta. This is the correct opinion; no others are required.

Burritos are good! Uh...but I assume people who eat them regularly either have a much greater appetite than I, or they're far better at quitting 70% through. I have a terrible tendency to plow through the whole thing and end up in a food coma.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


You guys know you can just. . .ask for no rice, right? And ask them to grill it even if that's not part of their usual routine.

(Rice is an abomination in burritos and should be banned. Fight me.)

PS - All you SF folks who haven't had a chile relleno burrito need to get down to La Corneta in Glen Park immediately.
posted by ananci at 2:57 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I imprinted on the Mexican style burrito in Iceland, of all places. For a glorious few years there existed a place called Mama's Tacos, which was opened by a Mexican man who imported his mama to make tacos. After a while she got tired of living in Reykjavík and working non-stop for her son, so she quit, and the son hired a bunch of German exchange students to make the food instead. The quality suffered, to say the least. People stopped going, the place closed. I'm glad I got to enjoy that, because other than that, I've mostly lived in burrito-deserts. But for a while it was possible to buy a little parcel of heaven in downtown Reykjavík, I can still recall the taste.
posted by Kattullus at 3:00 PM on November 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


I suppose they were too far north to have Hispanics up in SF back then? Seems odd. Maybe they were just sheltered?

I had a discussion with a woman from Mexico who said that burritos didn't exist, that Americans made up the word. Implying we knew nothing of Mexican cuisine. She refused to listen to me when I said that's what my great-grandmother from MEXICO called them. I've yet to heal.

For me, growing up in Kansas City, MO in the 1970s, anything wrapped in a flour tortilla was called a burrito in my family, although they were usually just beans. Then, "soft tacos" came around in the 90s when I was in Texas. Soft tacos? It's a goddamned burrito! What are you talking about?

Side note: I've heard crispy tacos called Gringo tacos in Texas, but street tacos/Mexican tacos use soft corn tortillas, not flour.

My take? Eat all the (not foreign in Texas) Mexican foods!
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 3:08 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm still trying to find a match for the carne asada burrito at Manuel's in Berkeley during summer 1982.
posted by Edward L at 3:35 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Then you've missed a lot of the different styles of burritos.

from the article - If I had to guess where the wet burrito was born, I'd say Southern California.

nope - grand rapids, michigan
posted by pyramid termite at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


I suppose they were too far north to have Hispanics up in SF back then? Seems odd. Maybe they were just sheltered?

Probably just "sheltered" -- as most of us are! For example, I've lived in plenty of areas with a large Indian population and decent Indian restaurants. The restaurants' patrons weren't all Indian, but the majority of people who lived in these places were not at all familiar with Indian food. An entire table of middle-schoolers freaked out when I brought pomegranate in my lunch. This was about five years before we hit peak pomegranate -- but you'd have thought I brought a beating heart to school to eat. Americans are weird about new things.

Thai and Chinese food both have a measure of structure behind their success, I wonder if any other cuisines do?
posted by grandiloquiet at 4:14 PM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


https://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/05/27/1938-the-times-discovers-the-cheeseburger/

Lots of foods were "discovered" by the mainstream press surprisingly late. The New York Times discovered a California fad called the cheeseburger in 1938. It's still shocking to me you couldn't get a cheeseburger in Manhattan bars back then.

Incidentally I prefer burritos in Chicago and Detroit to anywhere else I've had them.
posted by smelendez at 5:13 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


Pistols at dawn.

Well, these are burritos we're talking about, so whiskey shots at 2am, surely?

(L'Patron & the original Pasadita not the posers next door = reliable wins)
posted by aramaic at 5:58 PM on November 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


What? No. Every single burrito I've ever had, no matter where it was in the USA, had rice in it.

You need to eat some better burritos then. Rice in burritos is far from ubiquitous, even in mainstream places.

Personally, the best burritos I've ever had were in small towns in Chihuahua, slim rather than overstuffed and with the handmade flour tortillas providing flavor, not just packaging.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:31 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ah MetaFilter, never change. Pretentious pronouncements on the only proper way to eat [insert food of choice]. Anyone who likes it prepared differently, you are heretics and must be stone(groun)d to death!

Lord knows I love you all, but man are we a predictable bunch. (Even down to my grousing about the grousing).
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 6:58 PM on November 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


Cincinnati chili anyone?
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2018


Tamales.
posted by valkane at 8:02 PM on November 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


mmmm, Tamales!
(and meat, bean, and cheese burritos)
I'll have one of each.

We get more nutrients from corn that has been nixtamalized.
posted by phrits

Whoa! Now I can go to bed 'cause I learned a nifty word.
(might be hard to work into a new conversation, though)
posted by BlueHorse at 9:29 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love that the linked article gets its description of the burrito so wrong, and then we can't agree in the comments here on what a burrito is, either.

Maybe the burrito is actually a mind virus, impossible to describe in human words but able to be comprehended briefly if devoured. Its perfection cannot issue from any of its components, nor from their assembly, but follows in an ineffable way from their union. To preserve the extrasensory nature of its deliciousness, any verbal description of a burrito will contain one or more obvious factual errors. The speaker will be blind to his misstatements. You will favorite this comment before moving on. A burrito is that which compels you.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:07 PM on November 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


It seems pretty obvious. If it has a flour tortilla, it's a burrito...

...or a soft taco.

Dammit.
posted by muddgirl at 11:16 PM on November 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


"If the boom grows, the burrito may soon join such traditional American favorites as chow mein, chicken soup, pizza and the frankfurter.”

Racists and anti-Semitic! If he had thrown in a backhanded comment about women, he coulda had a trifecta.


Huh?
posted by standardasparagus at 12:03 AM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


In 1977, "Chow Mein" meant this: La Choy Canned Chow Mein
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:35 AM on November 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Didn't know people felt that strongly about rice NOT being in a burrito. As for my opinion, I don't think it's absolutely critical, since I've had some really satisfying burritos that are only made from beans. But I think rice does add a different texture and flavor since it is spanish rice that's used most of the time. Does anyone feel as strongly about just having a "no bean" burrito?

I do encounter beanless burritos when they are of the breakfast variety, since I think potatoes become the default filler. But the interesting part is Mexican breakfasts (at least here in SoCal) like Chilaquiles and Huevos Rancheros are often served with beans, so why not the breakfast burrito?
posted by FJT at 10:36 AM on November 3, 2018


As an Arizonan for 25 years, I have eaten well over 1000 burritos. In my opinion it's the beans and shape that distinguish a burrito from other Mexican toritlla/filling combinations like tacos. If it's main ingredient is beans and it is...burrito shaped...it is a burrito. I happen to dislike rice on burritos (it's superfluous!) but I don't judge anyone who does too harshly.

I have a great fear of Mission style burritos though. They are terribly impractical. I feel they negate the whole point of a burrito, which is to be an easily held, portable, edible pocket of tasty food. Like, my perfect burrito barely requires a napkin.

I think breakfast burritos are breakfast burritos. A cousin of the burrito that serves the same function but is still it's own thing. If I said it was burrito night in my house and then served breakfast burritos, it would not be ok.
posted by Lapin at 11:36 AM on November 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


I happen to dislike rice on burritos (it's superfluous!)

Is it because there's already a tortilla? Because, I think there's a hidden rule in food, at least here in the US, that you cannot have more than one carb on a dish. I feel that's very limiting. You can have more one protein. You can have more than one cheese or sauce. You certainly can have multiple toppings on a pizza. Why can't you have two carbs?
posted by FJT at 7:19 PM on November 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


When I moved back to Canada from the Bay Area I pretty much gave up on Mexican food

The worst Mexican food I've ever had in my life was at a popular joint in Melbourne, 2002. My god. The beans, of all things, were just entirely wrong. For one ---

...and I am not joking when I say this was not the only thing wrong with the beans...

--- they used elephant beans.

That was when I briefly contemplated buying an entire restaurant in Arizona and moving it, staff and equipment, to Melbourne. Then those pesky laws got in the way, and everyone on that street in Melbourne continued to suffer, in silence, unknown even to them.

It's probably a lot better now, tbh. But it still, still kinda haunts me.
posted by aramaic at 8:42 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I lived in Venice for a year and there was one Mexican restaurant and it was... not good. I can't even remember why at this point. I do remember wandering the markets trying to find ingredients for guacamole and/or margaritas. Limes, apparently, were not a thing.
posted by lazuli at 8:45 PM on November 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


FJT: I think there's a hidden rule in food, at least here in the US, that you cannot have more than one carb on a dish.

There are dishes that incorporate both potatoes and bread, most obviously a burger and fries.
posted by Kattullus at 11:07 PM on November 3, 2018


What? A whole thread about burritos and no-one has mentioned the Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel?
posted by heatherlogan at 6:06 AM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Heh, this all just reminds me of when I moved to the Bay Area in the late nineties as a hick from a majority chicano region of the southwest. Rice in the burrito? Why is it so freaking big? Where's the chile verde? Where's the refritos? Whaddya mean fish tacos?

Having since spent time in several different regions of Mexico and the US, I'm happy to report that the idea of the burrito, like that of the sandwich or the bowl of noodles, is capable of almost limitless variation.

Re the availability of "ethnic" foods, I'm younger than you, but although the last 20 years have completely changed the availability of all kinds of food in the US, I imagine what you were exposed to really really depends where you were and who your family interacted with.

For instance - and this is in rural Southern Colorado mind you - I remember when one of my dad's tweaker friends decided to buy into a Gyro franchise and set it up across the middle school - this would have been 1992 or so. My (German Pole) grandparents' best friends were from Northern India so we got Jellabis for any major holiday. We knew Czechs who had an apple orchard [zemlovka ftw!] and Italians who had a little deli/butcher shop and there were a couple passable Chinese restaurants in driving distance. This is in addition to the predominant available food being some variant of "Mexican."
posted by aspersioncast at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


There are dishes that incorporate both potatoes and bread, most obviously a burger and fries.

Gonna cut in with a technicality there. That's a main dish plus side dish, whereas a burrito is a single dish. I think as long as you look at dishes rather than whole meals, the pattern holds, with only a handful of regional or otherwise oddball exceptions. (Garbage plate and various "sandwich/burger with fries inside" types of dishes are what come to mind.)
posted by tobascodagama at 2:53 PM on November 4, 2018


tobascodagama: Gonna cut in with a technicality there. That's a main dish plus side dish, whereas a burrito is a single dish.

That raises its own question. What's the line between a single dish, and a main plus a side dish? To move away from burger and fries, for a second... what if you get saag paneer and rice at a restaurant, is that a main dish plus a side? What if it's saag paneer and naan (without rice)?

A burrito you can hold in your hand is clearly a single dish, but surely that's not the line. Otherwise a burrito, once opened up, would cease to be a single dish.
posted by Kattullus at 3:12 PM on November 4, 2018


A burrito you can hold in your hand is clearly a single dish

With some exceptions.
posted by peeedro at 6:20 PM on November 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Kattullus, was that the place next to Top Shop downtown? I remember it being one of the few places I could get something vegan back then - this was 2001ish. Couldn't afford it very often, but I remember it fondly, German exchange students or not.
posted by monocultured at 2:22 PM on November 5, 2018


Yes, it was next to Top Shop. I think Mama's Tacos may have outlasted Top Shop. If I remember correctly the German exchange students arrived in 2005. Mama's son and his children kept the place running for a while, and the quality good, before the German exchange students were hired.
posted by Kattullus at 2:43 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


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