Burrito Backstory

June 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

For all my love of food, I tend to focus on the here-and-now of consumption, rather than the evolution and traditions of my favorite meal. Other than tuna noodle casserole and cocktail hour at my grandpa’s, I didn’t grow up with any special grub or comestible conventions. Plus, I am generally not very curious about the historical origins of what I eat. Maybe I should develop some rituals related to food. Maybe I should be more inquisitive about what I’m eating. Perhaps exploring a food’s evolutionary path and heritage would give me a greater appreciation of it, encouraging me to savor it rather than toss it down my gullet carelessly.

This approach is new to me, so I’m starting small… with a Mental Floss article about that tasty Mexican staple: the burrito. According to Peter Fox, who – back in 1998 – traced the history of these portable meals for the Washington Post and NPR’s All Things Considered, the original burrito was rather small, only about 6 inches long and 1 ½ inches around. The meat was apparently more like jerky, dried and chewy.

Nowadays, Mexican burritos “…typically consist of refried beans, Spanish rice, or meat in a small tortilla, whereas in the United States fillings might include a combination of ingredients such as Spanish rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream, and, like many things in American … is considerably large.”

Fox, who’s also the founder of Burrito Brothers, recommends the following steps for constructing a perfect burrito:

“Steam or grill a 12-inch flour tortilla for 30 seconds to soften it up. Then spoon about 1/4 cup salsa, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup beans and 1/2 cup meat down the center of the burrito. Fold 2 to 3 inches of the right and left sides in. Flip the bottom up over the filling, tuck it in and roll up the burrito. Cheese, guacamole, hot sauce or sour cream may be added to the filling as desired.”

The Mental Floss article has lots of interesting tidbits like…

It’s fascinating – and yummy! – reading.


Entry filed under: food review, news around the blogosphere. Tags: , .

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