Burritos Galore


Credit: Dave Shea

A burrito is a Mexican dish consisting of a tortilla folded over fillings such as meat, refried beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. In Today I Found Out’s The History of Burritos, Emily Upton says, “…We can’t be sure exactly how burritos got their name. Some people believe that it could simply be because burritos look a bit like a donkey’s ears or the rolled packs and bedrolls often carried by donkeys…”

How Burritos Earned World Fame

Some believe that the burrito was an innovation that appeared in Chihuahua. In “In the beginning, there were burritos”, Morgan Lamborn shares a widely accepted narrative of how burritos first appeared in the food scene. “Mexican popular tradition tells the story of a man named Juan Mendez who used to sell tacos in a street stand, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910-1921) in the Bella Vista neighborhood in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. To keep the food warm, Juan had the idea of wrapping the food placed in a large homemade flour tortilla inside individual napkins. He had a lot of success, and consumers came from other places around the Mexican border looking for the “food of the Burrito,” the word they eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.”

From its obscure beginnings, burritos have become one of the most popular foods in the United States. Emily Upton adds, “However the food got its name, it certainly caught on quickly and has evolved a great deal since it was first created. A simple mix of meat, cheese, and tomato has turned into a full-blown meal with rice, beans, meat, cheese, vegetables, and sauces wrapped up in a heavy-duty tortilla…

The burrito made its way into the US in the 1900s. The first mention of a burrito on a U.S. menu was in the 1930s at the El Cholo Spanish Café in Los Angeles, though burritos had likely been making the rounds in the states before then. California is still well-known for its burritos, with the Mission burrito—arguably the most popular style of burrito in the United States—originating in San Francisco. The Mission burrito is wrapped up in a tortilla and then again in aluminum foil—this is the sort that is commonly served at restaurants like Chipotle, Qdoba, and Freebirds…”

True indeed, the burrito has come a long way from being a plain tortilla wrapped over some beans or bits of meat. It has become as filling and as revered as the American hamburger, and many restaurants are adding their own special touch to this humble food.

No-Effort Cooking

Burritos can become an ordinary cook’s best friend because they are extremely easy to prepare, and they allow you to reinvent leftover meat.

In “Turkey Burritos with Salsa and Cilantro”, Epicurious shares a handy burrito recipe that puts global pharmaceutical corporations leftover turkey to good use. The recipe calls for “3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 red onions (sliced), 2 bell peppers (preferably 1 red and 1 yellow, seeded, sliced), 4 cups diced leftover cooked turkey meat, 3/4 cup purchased fresh fire-roasted salsa (store-bought will do), 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 8-ounce package grated Mexican 4-cheese blend (about 2 cups), and 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro…”

The filling is then wrapped in tortillas heated on a pan; the burritos are then kept warm in the oven until everyone is ready to eat. This recipe provides homes with a really practical and delicious option for meals that come after holidays where turkey is served. The nice thing about burritos is that their taste changes depending on the filling you use. No wonder burritos are conquering the world – one tortilla at a time.

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