Sunday, July 02, 2006

Flying burrito, brother

Young 'uns on the West Coast may not believe this, but I didn't have my first burrito until I was 30 years old. It was the mid-70s and I lived in the Boston area, where there were exactly two restaurants that served Mexican food. One was a sleazy bar in Brighton and the other was a hippie dive in Somerville, and neither served burritos, just plateloads of melted stuff. Then, on a trip to California, I picked up a hitchhiker going to Santa Cruz and he took me to a seaside burrito joint. I gathered that burritos were big with surfer types, probably because they were tubular food.
I've eaten thousands of them since, both the giant, slathered ones you eat from plates with knives and forks and the much more satisfying taqueria kind swathed in tinfoil. Now I tend to eat my own quicky, cheaty burritos.
Recipe: Lay one flour tortilla (or two or three) on a plate and put a big blop of refried beans in the middle right from the can. Sprinkle with cumin and garlic powder, slop on hot sauce and then mix it all up, right on the tortilla. Top with a couple of pieces of whatever kind of cheese you have, as long as it comes from a rectangular block. Then fold three sides of the tortilla over so the result looks less like a tube and more like a cardboard fries packet from McDonald's. Cover with a damp paper towel, so the thing won't have the texture of cardboard, then microwave for a minute. Cheese should roil out the opening and stick to the paper towel. That's how you know it's done. Remove towel, let cool and enjoy.
Pretty good for not leaving the house.
And another thing. I didn't have my first fast-food hamburger until I was in college, when on a midnight drive a friend took me to a cult place off the Connecticut Turnpike called Burger King. I thought it was the only one, and it might have been the only one in New England in 1967. And McDonald's was a farm when I was growing up. We were forced to eat real hamburgers, the kind that dribbled juices. E-I-E-I-Oh, my.
If McDonald's is so popular, how come people don't try making Big Macs at home? That's right, you can't make anything that bad at home. But you can't fail with burritos. You don't need carne asada or a hot tortilla press. Mm, mm, there's something about the magic interaction between the flour tortilla, the damp paper towel and modern microwave technology.
Yes, that is a burrito toga party. Remove tinfoil before microwaving.


Anonymous shiek3 said...

Sounds good but wouldn't you rather have a Machaca BreakfastBurrito. Easy to make and tastier to eat. My favorite

9:21 AM  
Anonymous kudzu said...

I was even older than you were when I had my first burrito. East Coasters were so underserved in the fast food world at the time....Your story about Burger King reminds me of when my mama went up north from Georgia for the first time when she was a teenager, in the Twentie. She thought "Pizza" was the name of a restaurant chain.

10:00 AM  
Blogger cranky said...

Yes, I'd prefer a machaca breakfast burrito, anytime, not just for breakfast.
My dad, cranky old New England WASP that he was, bragged once that he'd never had pizza in his life. Hope they have all the steaks he wants in heaven. If he has gone to the other place, maybe they'll have good wood-fired pizza.
Re the "Pizza" restaurant chain: My wife says that trash cans in Hawaii have "Mahalo" printed on them, meaning "Thank you." Off-islanders think it means "Trash."

12:30 PM  
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