Sunday, December 8, 2013

breakfast burritos. rhetorical strategies. love.

 Miguelito’s Breakfast Burritos: The best and most convenient and most romantic food item ever assembled by human hands.

Illustrating Ideas by use of examples

See that young man?  His hair still wet and ungroomed.  Odd line around his neck from his wetsuit—pale below and tanned brown above?  He’s been in the cold water all morning and he’s ravenous.  What does he need?  A breakfast burrito.  Nothing else would be as good.  See that young woman at that library table?  At first she strikes you as somewhat attractive—but then you see she’s reading Shakespeare—and she becomes the most beautiful young woman you’ve ever seen.  She’s been reading since 8pm and it’s now nearly midnight.  She closes her book and heads out, a determined expression on her gorgeous face.  She knows what she needs—she’s thoughtful about what she eats but not obsessed—she’s on her way to the taqueria that stays open all night.  But not for tacos.  She’s going to order a breakfast burrito.

Classification as a rhetorical strategy

For the purposes of our discussion here let’s divide Mexican food into four broad categories.  We all know corporate Mexican food. One can get Mexican food at several different large chain restaurants.  You know the places.  The food is not inedible but it’s not that good.  And it’s overpriced and not the most convenient and often brought to you by an overworked server—and maybe the beans come out of a big can in the back.  You can’t be sure.  Worse than corporate Mexican food is something called Tex-Mex.  It is a nightmare of culinary imperialism. You take what’s good about Mexican food and bury it under Texan-ish-ness.  It’s like the George W. Bush of Mexican food.  At least it’s an honest name; I think they applied the “Tex” part of the name to acknowledge that they’ve messed up Mexican food.  Every body knows the best-tasting Mexican food is of course home-made—made with love by your mother or your tia or your abuela—with tortillas hand-made as well.  Although this type of Mexican food tastes best, it’s not the most convenient—it’s not always available.  Or not available at all to those of us who lack the good fortune of family from Mexico.  So finally we have food from your local independent taqueria or take out.  It may not taste quite as good as grandma’s but it’s close.  And what gives it the edge in terms of importance is that it’s most convenient—sometimes even available 24 hours a day.  And it’s affordable.

Comparison (and contrast) as a rhetorical strategy.

One would be irretrievably foolish to assume that all burritos are created equal.  In our effort to understand the preeminence of the breakfast burrito, we might examine it alongside another commonly consumed burrito.  I live in a state that has the misfortune of having its name attached to a horrible thing: The California burrito.  The California burrito is an abomination.   One feels the need to shower or otherwise cleanse oneself after just being in the vicinity of a California burrito.  In a breakfast burrito the ingredients balance perfectly and complement one another.  A hungry scholar can find nourishment and peace in consuming such a delicately balanced work of art.  A California burrito contains French fries.   A breakfast burrito combines ingredients to create a delicate interplay of flavors and textures.  A California burrito tastes like somebody was clearing dishes in a fast-food restaurant and just scraped the leftover scraps into a tortilla.  Nobody who is pure of heart could possibly appreciate such an abomination.


Eating a breakfast burrito is like being in a classroom where nobody uses a cell phone.  A room full of real humans who actually read.  Humans not enslaved to their electronics.  It’s like entering a world that you thought could only exist in the world of ideas.  But a breakfast burrito is not just an ideal.  It’s real and you can put it in your mouth and taste it and know that something like peace and balance is attainable here on earth.  It’s like hearing that song that played when you first kissed your true love and you knew that she was pure of heart and you knew that she knew that you were pure of heart.  That song never gets old. 

Process Analysis

One may not understand the paradoxically sturdy but delicate beauty of the breakfast burrito immediately.  At first one might eat some eggs and bacon wrapped up in a tortilla.  This could be one’s first step on the road to understanding.  Miguel Paniaugua Salsipuedes Cienfuegos Buenaventura had his first proto-breakfast burrito on boy scout camping trip.   It was not a breakfast burrito.  The tortilla came right out of the package and was wrapped around the campfire-cooked ingredients cold so it lacked those little lightly browned flaky areas from contact with the grill. An inferior shadow of a breakfast burrito—but it started him on the path.  It has been a long journey, but after years of trial and error he would eventually find just the right combination of ingredients and preparation that were necessary for the breakfast burrito that now bears his name.

Cause and effect

Studies show that regular consumption of breakfast burritos reduces stress and removes impurity from the heart of the consumer.   King Lear had three daughters:  Goneril, Regan and Cordelia.  You know the story.  Goneril and Regan lied about their love for him, took their inheritance and then betrayed him.  Cordelia actually loved her father, was honest about it, and was loyal to the end.  Guess which daughter ate breakfast burritos 3 or 4 times a week.  Cordelia.  Exactly. 


The word ‘burrito’ means, of course, ‘little burro.’  Some suggest that the name came about because the food resembles the bedroll carried on the back of a burro—others, more crudely, suggest it points to a part of burro anatomy.  Most experts believe this important food originated in Northern Mexico and was loved for it’s portability as well as for it’s deliciousness.  Ciudad Juarez claims the burrito as it’s own.  The Wikipedia entry on burritos also emphasizes the contribution of San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the development of this most important food item.


Once upon a time there was a boy who loved to read books and to listen to sad songs.  He read novels, plays, poetry, everything.   Nobody paid him any mind.  Except his math teacher who would yell at him and tell him to put away the books and work on his math.  Mostly he would read.  He didn’t play with his phone or post stupid stuff on facebook.  Nobody noticed him.  So he would read some more.  When the new girl arrived he looked up from his book and watched her find a seat.  She was pretty.  But still.  She probably wouldn’t notice him either.  He went back to his book.  Or tried to.  But then he looked up and saw her reading.  Not a textbook or anything, she was reading Franny and Zooey and he saw that she had a copy of Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters in her bag.  Now how was he supposed to ignore her presence and get back to reading?  She had become vastly more beautiful in the few minutes she’d been in the room.  She was radiant. 

He continued passing his eyes over the words for the rest of the day, but he was by no means reading.   He could only see her face.  The way her brown eyes moved across the page she was reading.   Her lips.  The way one side rose slightly when she focused more intently.

He went home.  He couldn’t sleep.  He listened to sad songs almost all night long and when he finally drifted off—just ten minutes before his alarm rang—he dreamed of talking to her at school under the two-trunked tree.

The next morning he was so wrecked and agitated that he knew he needed the peace that comes from his favorite food.  He picked it up on the way to school and when he got there—perhaps prompted by his dream—he sat under the two-trunked tree to eat it.

He didn’t even see her come around the corner and approach the tree.  She was trying to read and walk down the hall at the same time and when she almost tripped on a crack in the sidewalk she looked up and saw him sitting under the tree.  She put her book in her bag and approached him. 
“What are you eating? she asked quietly.

He finished swallowing although it was difficult.  “Breakfast burrito,” he choked.

“What kind of breakfast burrito?”  she asked, again, quietly.
“It’s kind of embarrassing,” he said, setting the little red salsa cup on the book at his side, “it’s named after me.  I ordered it so often in this particular way that they put it on the menu.  Miguelito’s breakfast burrito: eggs, bean rice and cheese.  I’m Miguel, I mean, my name is Miguel.  But Marielena—the lady that works at the counter at Don Miguel—calls me Miguelito because the owner’s name is Miguel.”
“What did you say was in it?” she asked.  And time seemed to stop for Miguel.  He couldn’t believe she was talking to him.  Could she really be interested in the contents of his burrito?

“Eggs, beans, rice and cheese.”

“No.  Way.” she said after a long but in no way awkward pause, her brown eyes placid but widening as she considered what he was saying.  “No.  Way.”  She paused and reached in her bag.  “I have to show you something.”  

She handed him what was clearly a burrito, still warm and wrapped in yellow paper.  On the paper a name was written in Marielena’s elegant red letters.  Miguelito. “I didn’t know what it said", she whispered, "or what it meant.  Until now.”
(Irene Jacob from Kieslowski's "Red")

And they lived happily ever after.  With their dog named Jack.