Friday, April 25, 2008

Mission: Burrito Part 3

Deceit is the act of intentionally fooling a person through disguise, lies or trickery. There are many an imposter in the world of Tex Mex – places that claim "original" or "authentic" as though simply the moniker lends the bearer some semblance of legitimacy. Nay, I argue that it is the substance - the actual product - that validates a brand's prowess. In this vein, my anger and frustrations were for the longest focused on faux burrito chains. Houses of ill repute seeking to cheapen and sully the brass name of true Tex Mex burritos. Many people have easily been lead astray by mass burrito marketing, attempting to pass itself off as a quick, cheap meal in a tortilla. The audacity! Is a Van Gogh simply a splash of colors serendipitously strewn about a canvas?

The burrito first came about during the Mexican Revolutionary period, when Juan Mendez, simply trying making a living selling tacos, had the genius idea of keeping the food he served warmer for longer by wrapping it in a tortilla. People loved this dish, and affectionately called it “burrito”, for the little donkey which pulled Juan’s food cart. Through evolution and passage of time, we have been privileged with this awe inspiring, hunger satisfying, hangover curing gift. And how do we thank it? By bastardizing it through mass marketing, slanderous false name calling, and large scale production. A lay person, unknowingly ignorant of the falsities to which they have been subjected, would have no other evidence or reason to further question its creation, thus negating any artistic or creative intentions the original culinaries intended through their genius.

Because of my departure from home for greener pastures, I had been forced to walk amongst the valley of the blind, slowly stripped of my birthright by desperation. In being transplanted so far away from the Lone Star State, I have been continually subjected to a barrage of subpar and unauthentic Tex Mex from places such as Moe’s, Qdoba, and the vilest culprit of all, Chipotle. Mass production and a McDonalds ownership have converted my highly coveted tortillian treat into a Model T assembly line product. And the worst of it was that slowly, but surely, these generic impersonators were eroding my valiant protests, reducing me to crave these vile creations in substitute of my forlorn love.




Soon a
chasm lay in the place of my love for Tex Mex, the tides of chain-mex ebbing away at my armor. I thought all had been lost....

But lo! What sweet rewards perseverance through the madness reaps! My birthing of the UE marked the beginning of a reclamation. The rumblings of my long dormant Southwestern identity began to tremble the walls in which they were housed, calling to its master to free it. At 3pm on March 12, 2008 I arrived at Houston IAH airport, hungry and humbled by the smell of lime, cumin and jalapeños. I had come home. My agenda was simple: remind myself through ingestion of the wonders Texas has to offer.

Preparing for this trip found me reaching as far back as my memory would allow, searching my soul for the delights which influenced me so consummately. Like a
broken levy, my brain was awash with flavors, aromas and names that I had suppressed during the years of my unrealized imprisonment. Highest on the list was a place I had frequented during my high school years, when a certain senior, destined for an urbane epicurean reincarnation, parked on the street and would leave a cone in his spot so usurpers would not covet the prime real estate. All so that he and his charming, guitar playing, classic car driving brethren could partake in this utopia’s spoils.

I exited Highway 59, and made a right on Richmond from Kirby, driving fervently towards my
destination. The scene had drastically changed since the glory days of my youth. A Whole Foods had flourished due to the region's diverse mix of health conscious youths. Woodrow’s, a favorite neighborhood watering hole, had since boarded up and gone dry. I actually missed my turn, distracted by this microcosm of Darwinism, but finally arrived at my Elysian Fields.

I walked in and paused as I recounted memories of illegal off-campus lunches, lackadaisical skipped class periods, undaunted laughter and
eternal camaraderie. I could almost see the wraith of my adolescence still seated at our regular table, head askew with carefree elation. I anxiously took my place in line, eager to place an all too familiar order, but butterflies of anxiety turned to atom bombs of fear. Would I sound like I belonged? Would they think me a tourist? Had I been away so long that the people of my hometown wouldn't recognize the life blood in my veins that they themselves helped sustain? Had I lost my accent?

"Wheat tortilla, rice (real
red mexican rice, not the butter and cilantro rice imposters peddle), corn (a staple of Tex-Mex), the red tomatillo sauce, sour cream, black beans, and lettuce. A side of chips and queso please sir. Oh yeah, and throw in a Shiner".





"Certainly, sir. Welcome home!"

$12.97 was the cost of salvation, a toll handily paid to the boatman to cross my river Styx.

Mission: Burrito – accomplished

-The UE


cg said...

I'm sorry... I like Chipotle... And I'm from SOUTHERN California... So I know good Mexican when I see it too!!

B. Hen said...

LMAO! I live in TX and still don't know where to get some good TexMex, aint that a shame. Elysian Fields??? You're too much sir! Good job on the illustrious details. This article earns you an add to my RSS feed.

wild cowgirl said...

moes...chipotle...qdoba...i feel you. BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT WILLY'S FOLK!?!?!?!?

best tofu burrito EVER!

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