Hidden Conduits for Joy in Mexican Cuisine


Toward a Festive Analysis of the Burrito

“A burrito (US English /bəˈritoʊ/ buˈrito (help·info))[1] is a type of Mexican[2] and Tex-Mex food,[3] consisting of a large wheat flour tortilla with a filling, wrapped into a closed-ended cylinder, in contrast to a taco, where the tortilla is simply folded around the filling. The flour tortilla is sometimes lightly grilled or steamed to soften it, make it more pliable and allow it to adhere to itself when wrapped.”

– Wikipedia (2016), Description of a burrito, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito

I can hear you think, reader. You’re thinking, “David, is this what Writer’s Block has come to now? Are we just going to quote Wikipedia and hope it comes off as a real article? Am I witnessing the burgeoning decay of literature and the civilized world right before my very eyes?” – To your thoughts I say:


I will explain myself.

I quote Wikipedia because they are lying to us through omission, and because I want to take you on a journey, and show you that a burrito is so much more than just a random collection of mere material foodstuffs. It’s obviously important that we investigate this matter further, so I invite you, reader, on a voyage. Come with me, and together we will discover the beans behind the flour, and with it the undervalued metaphorical and metaphysical significance of the wrap, and the message that the wrap-contents hide.

The first thing on our investigative to-do list is to rebuke the haters and the naysayers – in particular critics from the but-it’s-basically-a-hamburger-in-a-wrap school of thought. While instinctively appealing at first sight, their argument falls apart when we take into account the importance of form in the construction of the character of any foodstuff. Are the penne the same as the rigatoni? Is the untwisted Oreo the same as the halved? No. It is through their particular physical gesture that foodstuffs become food and gain their specific meaning in our lives. In the case of the hamburger, that gesture is one of obvious, blunt and violent aggression: “Crush the food!”, the buns seem to say, “Destroy the burger!”, the bread squeals with glee as their unwitting consumer eats this vesicle of concentrated hatred. We contrast this gesture with that of the burrito. If we are what we eat, and if our main dish is inside the wrap, the wrap shows us its love for us – and, by certain extension, our own love for ourselves – through its (or perhaps, our) wheatey embrace. The act of eating then becomes one of uncomposed and unrefined self-love and self-acceptance.

Secondly, the impossibility of eating our meal of choice with any composure is yet another element that sets it aside from the rest. By forcing us to get messy, it brings us to a level of authenticity that can only be called therapeutic. Through unfettered self-love a catharsis takes place, and for a short time we ascend to a plane of existence where we can witness the Ideas in all their simple glory. As Nietzsche famously once said, “Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein.”[1]. Historians of philosophy commonly state that Nietzsche here was reflecting on the dangers of abstract thought and the inescapable openness of the world – which is true – but they forget to note the context: namely, that he’d come up with this after eating a really nice burrito and spilling the beans all over his mustache by sticking his nose too deep into the wrap.

On this note, our journey comes to an  end – and I’d like to give thanks to Mexican cuisine for bringing me and my friends this conduit for joy on many a frosty Dutch night.

[1] “And if you stare long into an abyss, the abyss will stare back into you.”


1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s