“We came down here to research your ‘Have a nice day’ concept,” a San Francisco city official told IAWV News Service, “and we got so hungry after a day spent at one of your populated beaches, documenting stuff like ‘smiling’ and ‘pleasantries,’ that we decided to finally give your burritos a try. We were so blown away that we must’ve said ‘Hella,’ like, a hundred times.”
The surrender came on the heels of a decades-long battle that began in the late 1970s, when southern California surfers, visiting northern California to prove that they could surf there without dying, were unable to find any drive-through Mexican restaurants and began abandoning their vehicles, risking parking tickets and frostbite, to wander the streets of San Francisco on foot in search of sustenance.
“They didn’t even know what fish tacos or refried beans were,” said surfer Skip Middleschool. “All the burritos had whole beans and rice in them and some kind of bland steam-table meat and really dark oily sauce that wasn’t even hot at all. We were, like, ‘Where are we? Seattle?’”
San Diego’s superiority as a destination for tasty, inexpensive Mexican food may derive in part from the burrito’s historical link to the region. It was invented in what is now San Diego’s Mission Valley area when legendary 17th-century Spanish explorer Juan Grilla deTortilla discovered that by wrapping bits of cooked meat or beans in the thin, round disc-shaped bread of the local Indians, then folding the concoction into a piece of parchment, his men could enjoy hot, fulfilling meals that gave them the energy to kill all the Indians.
DeTortilla recounted in his diary:
“We forced them to teach us how to make their delicious, paper-thin bread, which we then named in honor of me, which they complained about, which gave me the idea of killing them…. Anywaaay, I wonder if Maria likes me.”
The Spanish colonists also found that the little tube-shaped meals transported well when they traveled by donkey or horseback, hence the name “burrito,” which means “I think I spilled hot sauce on my pants” in Spanish.
According to UCSD burritologist, Sharon A. Chimichanga, the burrito has thrived as the favorite quick meal for people on the go in the border area, thanks to its perfection through a series of proven innovations and processes.
“Most important is the tortilla. In San Diego, it’s heated on a grill until slightly browning, bubbly and flaky. The inside, where the ingredients go, remains tender. Popular styles include the carne asada, the bean and cheese, the chile relleno, the vegetarian, the breakfast and the California, which adds french fries and guacamole to carne asada. These unique creations vary in preparation from shop to shop, but, in general, beans are refried, not whole; rice does not come inside the burrito; cheese is a mixture of white and orange; and the hot sauce is very spicy and red. Because the climate is warmer, the burritos tend to be more seasoned and spicy overall.”
“San Francisco burritos,” professor Chimichanga said, “are basically what you get at Chipotle. The tortillas are steamed and then wrapped in foil, so the heat gets trapped inside and the already rubbery wrap turns into a gluey, disgusting mess. What are they thinking? Would you steam a panini? Give me a break! And everything is bland. It’s like they took the flavor out and replaced it with rice.”
San Francisco city officials argue that their customizable, assembly-line burrito concept, which gave birth to Chipotle, is “pretty cool,” but they still admitted defeat after tasting burritos made with grilled tortillas that had been wrapped only in a large yellow square of sandwich paper.
“You’d have to eat this right away for it to stay hot in San Francisco,” one official said. “It’s crispy yet tender and not gummy at all, plus it’s very flavorful. The hot sauce in the squeeze bottle is freaking hot!”
After receiving news of their victory, San Diego city officials asked San Francisco if they now planned to encourage their taquerias to adopt the San Diego burrito style.
San Francisco responded that they’d “think about it,” but they weren’t sure it would catch on. “In San Francisco, we’re full of ourselves to the point of thinking that The Grateful Dead and Journey are good, so we’re not likely to embrace something just because it’s better. I mean, the only reason we’re admitting that your burritos won the war is because we’re here in San Diego right now, eating them, drinking cold Pacifico and enjoying this sunny afternoon. It’s hard to deny. We feel relaxed and happy. Once we return to San Francisco, we’ll probably turn cold and grumpy again and take it back.”
One official added, “Can you please pass me the hot sauce? And do you know anybody looking for a roommate?”