I did not grow up eating Mexican Food, but then never considered chili and beans as necessarily being Mexican. I ate my first taco while at Texas A&M, and many more later while teaching in Seguin. It took me a little more time to become acquainted with Burritos. I didn’t, and still don’t eat them often, but my love for Mexican Food caused me to investigate.
A burrito in Tex-Mex cuisine apparently took its present form in California— all of this I gleaned, interestingly, from sources published outside of Texas. Burritos begin with beef, chicken, or pork. They may include other ingredients, such as rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese, and, they’re recommended to be accompanied by salsa, Pico de Gallo, guacamole, or a heavy cream. Experts tend to believe that the Mayans used corn tortillas as early as 1500 B.C. to wrap foods such as chili peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, and avocados. So, supposedly, did the Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest. No one knows for sure, and there are many assumptions, but one thing is for certain — somewhere along the line there was a conversion from a corn tortilla to a flour tortilla, and that was the first step for making a burrito.
Flour tortillas appeared in the new world after the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s. It appears they were attempting to convert the maize-based cuisine to one based on wheat – I cannot imagine why. Nevertheless, their attempts were more successful in the northern-most Mexican states along the American border. Feliz Ramos Durate, a Cuban exiled to Mexico in 1868, became convinced they were regional to the Mexican state of Guanajuato, a state which is clearly not on the Texas/Mexico border. It is widely believed likely that burritos made their first appearance in Ciudad Juárez, the city across from El Paso, where a street vendor named Juan Méndez called poor schoolchildren vying for something to eat his little “burritos” — a reference to his donkey. That tale became popular, and the burrito was born. Others claim they first appeared on a menu in Los Angeles’ El Cholo Spanish Café restaurant in the 1934. Since then, California, particularly San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles have become completely enthralled with them.
In 1952, frozen beef and bean burritos were becoming available to Americans. Mission burritos received their name because they were first created in the Mission District of San Francisco by Febronio Ontiverso at his restaurant he named El Faro. By 1961 he was famous for the giant burritos made for local firefighters. These were known for their comical size, stuffed with grilled meat, rice, beans, and an array of condiments. A year earlier, Glen Bell Columbus founded Taco Bell at which he offered burritos, further popularizing them. His annual sales topped 10 billion dollars by 2017. Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe was the first to create a “breakfast burrito” in 1975. These burritos were seared until their exterior was golden and crisp. This Dorado-style burritos had been first offered in San Francisco two years earlier. Regardless of the variations, the popularity of the burrito appears to be still growing. The Millennial generation (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) consumes more than one every week. The silent generation to which I belong — lags far behind. Here is a great recipe I found for making not only a Breakfast Burrito, but the salsa as well. It came from Once Upon a Chef with Jenn Segal. If you don’t feel like making homemade salsa or you are pressed for time, substitute with a ready-made salsa like our Salsa a La Charra.
Ingredients: FOR THE AVOCADO-TOMATO SALSA
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup diced seeded tomatoes, from 1 to 2 tomatoes
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro’
Ingredients: FOR THE BURRITOS
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb spicy sausage (such as chorizo, Italian, or anything you like), removed from casings
1-1/3 cups (6 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 (10-in) burrito-size flour tortillas
Instructions: TO MAKE THE AVOCADO-TOMATO SALSA
Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the smoked paprika and salt.
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage from the pan to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low.
Add the eggs and scramble until just cooked through.
Transfer the eggs to a plate.
Clean the pan (you’ll use it again).
Instructions: TO ASSEMBLE THE BURRITOS
Spoon about 1/4 cup of the avocado-salsa onto each tortilla followed by a quarter of the sausage, a quarter of the eggs, and 1/3 cup cheese.
Fold in the sides of the tortilla over the filling and roll, tucking in the edges as you go.
Lightly coat the pan with oil and set over medium heat.