December 28, 2014

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Burrito Burrito Burrito Zine by Serena H

There are certain foods I could eat endlessly and never grow tired of them, though their special relationship to my taste buds would naturally diminish a bit over time. Pretty much anything that we in America call "Mexican Food" regardless of its authenticity would fit that bill for me. So naturally, when I came upon a zine called "Burrito Burrito Burrito" I was not only intrigued but also a bit hungry.

Fortunately, I did not turn into a Cookie Monster sketch and eat the zine, though it's cover (sadly, I can't find one online for you) does feature two tasty burritos on its cover (the third presumably eaten). Author Serena H. says that she's "most content with a burrito in her hands" and spends the 32 pages of this half-sized zine discussing her favorite food. Serena, like me, is a vegetarian, and thus spends most of her time discussing meat-free versions of the burrito but is careful not to dismiss those who like a bit of cow or pig mixed with their beans, rice, and cheese. She does, however, encourage meat eaters to try veggie burritos, something I'll wholeheartedly second. (Especially if you go to Chipotle, where they'll happily give you free guacamole if you order a veggie burrito. Guacamole trumps grilled chicken every time.)

After discussing the origin of the burrito, which she places around the beginning of the 20th Century on the conflicted border between Mexico and the United States during the Mexican Revolution. A man carried food on a donkey, which he kept warm by wrapping the contents in a tortilla. By the 1960s, it changed form, becoming the more familiar gigantic "big as your head" style. This may have started in San Francisco, and I'll let you insert your own joke here.

From there, Serena gives instructions on how to make your own burrito, with tips on what to put inside your tortilla, how to make said tortilla, and a salsa recipe to boot. She also studies her own burrito preferences, which include some local Portland establishments and a (quite possibly unhealthy) recurring Taco Bell habit. While one can argue about going the Fast Food Mexican route when there's so many good local places here in Stumptown (I can hear one of my friends, if he's reading this, groaning from here), I appreciate that Serena is not a food snob. She's not calling it the best burrito, just admitting that sometimes you want to get something quick to eat. 

Naturally, she discusses Chipotle's virtues and disses Qdoba, which she "doesn't wish on any burrito connoisseur." Gotta agree with her on that. As Serena points out, it's pretty easy to make a burrito--but it's hard to get it right. She flirts briefly with wraps vs burritos as well, especially as it relates to local upscale grocery chain New Seasons. Strangely, she's not fond of breakfast burritos, something I really dig (and Erica makes for us regularly).

One of the more interesting decisions in this food zine is Serena's interviews with two local Mexican restaurants, one of which I'm quite fond of (Los Gorditos, aka the best Mexican in town). She asks them about their cooking history, how they came to run successful, multi-location restaurants, and of course, how much they like burritos. Some of the answers may surprise you!

Wrapping with a walk through Gresham, which she calls Portland's most maligned suburb, and how to get burritos there, Serena's tribute to one of my favorite foods was a great main course on a random library grab. I'm not sure if this one is still making the rounds at zine fests, but if you are a fan of burritos, be on the lookout for this one, and dig in!