The California Burrito Dispute and Why Arguing About Food is Dumb
The burrito world is full of strident opinions. Not enough meat. Structural integrity. Too much rice. Rice?! And there are few culinary discussions in this world more contentious than that between two distinct camps: those who champion the Mission Burrito and them who wave the flag for the San Diego version. Come to think of it, though, it’s mainly those who hail from the latter city who can’t seem to keep their yaps shut about the posited superiority of their city’s version of the ubiquitous Mexican meat missile that almost everybody on the planet has stuffed into their face at one time or another. Many of us up here are blissfully unaware of the tortilla-swaddled ambrosia we’re missing. Whenever a San Diegan starts loudly expressing his gustatory partisanship I just shrug and gaze into the middle distance while imagining sinking my likely-inebriated teeth (yes, teeth can achieve inebriation along with the rest of the body) into a fat, delicious al pastor burrito within the dirty formica environs of El Farolito at 2 a.m. in the Mission.
File our Californian Burrito Dispute with NYC water and its elevating effect upon the local bagels, Chicago’s hot dog, and the interminable, pointless argument over who’s BBQ is the best (a discussion which usually comes down to Texas, Kansas City, and South Carolina), that is, in an over-stuffed dossier with the words, “Foodie Jibber Jabber” written on its yellowed cover.
There’s a special section of the Purgatorial hiking trail dedicated to those who can’t help but turn something intended for un-complicated pleasure into an ISSUE, a chance to engage in un-abashed mental jerk fests. Sniffing the breeze wafting down a rocky gulch, one of these lost souls will likely comment upon the hint of stone fruit he claims to detect beneath the sulfur. Back on earth he was paid tidy sums to wave his hand above a tumbler of bourbon and knowingly parse its flavor profile, commenting upon the degree to which the new oak barrels were charred, and engaging his rapt audience of white urban hobbyists in a lengthy, fascinating analysis of the whiskey’s grain bill (don’t ask).
As I continue my trudge up the flanks of my own Purgatory, i.e., the restaurant industry, the higher I rise through its ever-thinning atmosphere, my interactions with this special breed of citizen increase in frequency, a sort which otherwise might have occupied his or her (usually his) obsessive nature with art restoration or the classification of Amazonian fauna. The glaze on a customer’s steak is echoed in his eyes as he tries to feign interest in the discourse on juniper berries being given from behind the bar. Knowledge for some people is a status-enhancing commodity and they compulsively flaunt it like a Saudi prince draped in super models on the sun deck of his yacht. No matter the profession, a multitude of it’s practitioners will inject it with the collagen made of their own self-importance. Perhaps it’s an extension of our instinct as animals to artificially puff up the organism in self defense so as to appear larger than we are.
Myself, I’ve barked hot air alongside the best of them, but with time and a moderate increase in self-awareness I’ve learned to resist the pedantic urge (or find other outlets for it) when I deem it to be superfluous, which is most of the time.
Oh, and that vital subject of the difference between the Mission burrito and that of San Diego? Rice.