How the Burrito Came About
The word burrito means "little donkey" in Spanish, as a diminiuitive form of burro, or "donkey". The name burrito as applied to the food item possibly derives from the appearance of a rolled up wheat tortilla, which vaguely resembles the ear of its namesake animal, or from bedrolls and packs that donkeys carried. In some areas, such as the Lower Rio Grande Valley, they are called patos, meaning "ducks", again presumably derived from their appearance
Hand-held take-out foods like the burrito have a long history. Before the Spanish colonization of the Americas, indigenous peoples were eating hand-held snack foods like corn on the cob, popcorn and pemmican. In Mexico, the Spanish observed Aztecs selling take-out foods like tamales, corn tortillas, and sauces in open marketplaces. The Pueblo people of the desert Southwest also made corn tortillas with beans and meat sauce fillings prepared much like the modern burrito we know today.
Cuisine preceding the development of the modern taco, burrito, and enchilada was created by the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Aztec peoples of Mexico, who used tortillas to wrap foods, with fillings of chile sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, and avocados. Spanish missionaries like Bernardino de Sahagún wrote about Aztec cuisine, describing the variety of tortillas and their preparation, noting that the Aztecs not only used corn in their tortillas, but also squash and amaranth, and that some varieties used turkey, eggs, or honey as a flavoring.
Development in Mexico
The precise origin of the modern burrito is not known. In the 1895 Diccionario de Mexicanismos, the burrito was identified as a regional item from Guanajuato and defined as "Tortilla arrollada, con carne u otra cosa dentro, que en Yucatán llaman coçito, y en Cuernavaca y en Mexico, taco" (A rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called 'coçito' in Yucatán and 'taco' in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City).
An often-repeated folk history is that of a man named Juan Mendez who sold tacos in a street stand in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910–1921). To keep the food warm, Mendez wrapped it in large homemade flour tortillas inside individual napkins. As the "food of the burrito" (i.e., "food of the little donkey") grew in popularity, "burrito" was eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.
ent in the United States
In 1923, Alejandro Borquez opened the Sonora cafe in Los Angeles, which later changed its name to the El Cholo Spanish Cafe. Burritos first appeared on American restaurant menus at the El Cholo Spanish Cafe during the 1930s. Burritos were mentioned in the U.S. media for the first time in 1934, appearing in the Mexican Cookbook, a collection of regional recipes from New Mexico authored by historian Erna Fergusson.
Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border towns like Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos. Authentic Mexican burritos are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two ingredients: some form of meat or fish, potatoes, rice, beans, asadero cheese, chile rajas, or chile relleno. Other types of ingredients may include barbacoa, mole, refried beans and cheese, deshebrada, and (shredded slow-cooked flank steak). The deshebrada burrito also has a variation with chile colorado (mild to moderately hot) and salsa verde (very hot). The Mexican burrito may be a northern variation of the traditional taco de Canasta, which is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. citation needed
Although burritos are one of the most popular examples of Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico, in Mexico they are only popular in the northern part of the country. However, they are beginning to appear in some nontraditional venues in other parts of Mexico.
Wheat flour tortillas used in burritos are now often seen throughout much of Mexico (possibly due to these areas being less than optimal for growing maize), despite at one time being peculiar to northwestern Mexico, the Southwestern US Mexican American community, and Pueblo Indian tribes.
Burritos are commonly called tacos de harina (wheat flour tacos) in central and southern Mexico and burritas (feminine variation, with 'a') in northern-style restaurants outside of northern Mexico proper. A long and thin fried burrito similar to a chimichanga is prepared in the state of Sonora and vicinity, and is called a chivichanga.
The most common style of the burrito in the United States is not as common in Mexico. Typically, American style burritos are larger than Mexican ones, and stuffed with more ingredients than the primary meat and/or vegetable filling. Pinto or black beans, white rice (with cilantro and lime or Mexican style), guacamole, salsas, cheese, and sour cream and onion are frequently added.
The San Diego style of burrito has been described as "austere" and "simple". A carne asada burrito in San Diego, for example, can consist solely of chunks of carne asada and guacamole,or carne asada, guacamole, and pico de gallo salsa without other ingredients such as rice and beans. One may also encounter non-traditional, "healthy" burrito fillings such as eggplant.The California burrito
A San Diego-area specialty, consists of chunks of carne asada meat, French fries, cheese, and either pico de gallo, sour cream, or guacamole (or some combination of these three). The ingredients are similar to those used in the carne asada fries dish, and it is considered a staple of the local cuisine of San Diego, California. With its merging of French fries with more traditional burrito fillings, the California burrito is an example of fusion border food. Although the California burrito originated in San Diego sometime in the 1980s, the earliest-known published mention of one was in a 1995 article in the Albuquerque Tribune. San Francisco or Northern California Burrito
Also called a Mission or Mission-style burrito, the typical San Francisco burrito is produced on a steam table assembly line, and is characterized by a large stuffed tortilla, wrapped in aluminum foil, which mainly consists of carne asada (beef), mexican style rice, whole beans, (non refried) sour cream and light onion.
San Francisco burrito
The San Francisco burrito emerged as a regional culinary movement during the 1970s and 1980s. The popularity of San Francisco-style burritos has grown locally, with Mission Street taquerias like El Farolito, and nationally with chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Illegal Pete's, Freebirds World Burrito, Qdoba, and Barberitos. In 1995, World Wrapps opened in San Francisco's Marina District, bringing a burrito-inspired sandwich wrap style to the restaurant industry. There has been huge debate in the battle of best regional burritos in California. Some food critics have favored the Northern California burrito, and others have favored the famous California Burrito, which is largely popular in the border city of San Diego and as far north as Orange County.
The origins of the San Francisco burrito can be traced back to Mission District taquerias of the 1960s and 1970s. Other theories state the original San Francisco burritos began with farm workers in the fields of the Central Valley in particular the
regions of Fresno and Stockton. or with miners of the 19th century. Febronio Ontiveros describes that he began offering the first retail burrito in San Francisco at El Faro (The Lighthouse) in 1961, a corner grocery store on Folsom Street. Ontiveros claims credit for inventing the "super burrito" style leading to the early development of the "San Francisco style".
This innovation involved adding rice, sour cream and guacamole to the standard meat, bean and cheese burrito. El Faro got its start when firemen from a nearby station requested sandwiches, which Ontiveros was unable to make. Instead, Ontiveros offered the firemen burritos. Large tortillas were unavailable in the early 1960s, so three six-inch tortillas were used to hold the filling. Ontiveros sold the burritos for one US dollar. Others claim that the origin of the San Francisco style burrito required the use of the large flour tortillas lacking at El Faro, and instead give credit to Raul and Michaela Duran who sold burritos made in the now famous San Francisco style from their meat market on Valencia Street in 1969, which they converted into the La Cumbre Taqueria in 1972.
The breakfast burrito, a variety of American breakfast, is composed of breakfast items wrapped inside a flour tortilla. This style was invented and popularized in several different regional American cuisines, most notably New Mexican cuisine, Southwestern cuisine, and Tex-Mex. Southwestern breakfast burritos may include scrambled eggs, potatoes, onions, chorizo, guisado, or bacon. Tia Sophia's, a Mexican café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claims to have invented the original breakfast burrito in 1975, filling a rolled tortilla with bacon and potatoes, served wet with chili and cheese. Fast food giant McDonald's introduced their version in the late 1980s, and by the 1990s, more fast food restaurants caught on to the style, with Taco Bell, Sonic, and Carl's Jr. offering breakfast burritos on their menus.
(Wet Burrito style)
A smothered (often called "wet" or enchilada style) burrito is smothered with a red chili sauce similar to enchilada sauce with melted shredded cheese on top. It is usually eaten off a plate with a fork and knife, rather than hand held. When served in a Mexican restaurant in the U.S., a melted cheese covered burrito is typically called a burrito suizo (suizo meaning Swiss, an adjective used in Spanish to indicate dishes topped with cheese or cream).
A chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito popular in Southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisines, and in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Sonora.
Taco Bell research chef Anne Albertine experimented with grilling burritos to enhance portability. This grilling technique allowed large burritos to remain sealed without spilling their contents. This is a well known cooking technique used by some San Francisco taquerias and Northern Mexico burrito stands. Traditionally, grilled burritos are cooked on a comal (griddle).
Bean burritos, which are high in protein and low in saturated fat have been touted for their health benefits. Black bean burritos are also a good source of dietary fiber and phytochemicals.