Dietribes: A Little Donkey

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"¢ Have you had a little donkey today? Aside from the certainty of its literal translation, the origins of the burrito are highly disputed (although we can be sure they never contained actual donkey meat ... but after that, anything goes). Peter Fox of the Washington Post notes, in his quest to find the true origins of the burrito, "As we followed the historical trail, and got closer and closer to the source, the burritos became smaller and smaller, and our favorite ingredients disappeared one by one. When we finally found what we thought was the original burrito, it was very different from the burritos we knew and loved. The burrito's evolution seemed like a cross-generational version of the children's game of telephone, in which a message is passed through so many people that the message at the end is completely different from the original."

"¢ In Mexico, 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.

"¢ What exactly IS a burrito? Well, at least we know it's not a sandwich, or so it was ruled by a judge when Panera attempted to thwart a Qdoba Mexican Grill from moving into its shopping center by invoking a clause that prevented other sandwich shops from moving in.

"¢ So what were original burritos like? Fox found, "this humble burrito was very small—maybe 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter, a far cry from the hefty burritos we were used to. The meat, while smoky and flavorful, was a little bit dry and chewy, as you might expect dried beef to be [...] I was disappointed, but only for a moment: I realized that all was as it should be [...] but for me, I'll stick with the California style any day." Listen to a clip from Peter's journey to find the original burrito here.

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"¢ Burritos can be healthy, nutritious meals. Consider the Burrito Project—Feeding the homeless with burritos, an idea that got rolling thanks to MySpace.

"¢ I'm noticing a trend in these Dietribes ... no matter the food, there always seems to be a related eating competition. So, for those of you with stronger stomachs than mine, information on Competitive Burrito eating.

"¢ Is that a burrito in your pocket, or are you just angry to see me? The story of a New Mexico high school that went into lockdown when a giant burrito was mistaken for a weapon. I like two things about this story: One, that the perp's name is Morrissey (because it would be), and that he's now referred to as "Burrito Boy."

"¢ According to Burrito Brothers founder Peter Fox (the same one mentioned earlier), the classic assemblage of a burrito is as such:
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.

"¢ Bonus link: Speaking of Little Donkey, for Ricky Gervais podcast fans, here's Karl Pilkington talking about "going down a storm" drumming to Little Donkey.

"¢ OK fellow Flossers, where's your favorite place to pick up a burrito? Here in Atlanta, we often stop by Moe's, especially in the late morning after long nights out. Or, if making your own burrito, what are your favorite ingredients?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.