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Monday, May 11, 2009

Sneako de Mayo

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2009 at 4:16 PM

  • Fernando de Sousa, Wikimedia Commons
Dara Strickland is a leading expert on sneaking food and drink into the movies. She reports on her exploits for Gut Check (from an undisclosed location) every Monday.

Let us now praise famous foods.

The long skinny baguette sandwich, able to be laid across the bottom of a bag, in a particularly deep coat pocket or -- at most extreme lengths -- couched like a lance between non-ticket-buying arm and ribs beneath a concealing piece of clothing: We salute you.

The Asian street food crêpe, curled in conical delight around your crisp vegetables, rich sauces and mysterious parts of the pig, a cornucopia of temperatures, textures and flavors: We salute you.

But greatest praise is reserved for the most sneakable take-out food of them all...

The burrito.

How can I express to you the balance of its flavors in the celluloid glare, the way every grain of rice or black-sheathed bean makes demands against the tongue to be counted in the dusk of a theater in a way they are never emboldened to do under the florescent lights of the Qdoba sign?

  • Ryan Michael, Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps it's one of those phenomena so experiential that it's impossible to explain, like the blue of the glass in the Cathedral at Chartres. Neutered of the ability to talk about the thing itself, I'll give you a glance at its marvellous perimeter. In my heavy winter coat, there's a very deep interior breast pocket on the left side with a narrow, zippered mouth. No matter what sneakable food it contains, I refer to it solely as "the burrito pocket."

When you are winding down your winter and putting your coats away to hang before a silent audience in the closet another season, check them for such a marvellous pocket and dream of salsa'd warmth in a coming cold.

Why does the burrito deserve so much praise?

Availability, logistic, and variety. No matter if you're in the heart of the City or way out in the County, there is a quick burrito place less than a mile from your theater. Burritos are tubular and individually wrapped for maximum convenience. Even at counter-based places, those south-of-the-border Subways where only one employee knows what menudo is and he's the one running the dishwasher, you have a choice of at least three kinds of filling, two kinds of beans and four kinds of salsa -- all combining for a nightmarish morass for the indecisive.

Ethan Hawke's translation of Hamlet to modern New York would have made a much smoother transition if it had been set more specifically in one of these restaurants, Hamlet's dithering made more palatable by a squeeze of lime. "To guac or not to guac?"

That is not the question. The question is, how will you unwrap your burrito?

Look, I made you a chart of some common methods.

Burrito Unwrapping Styles and You

click to enlarge sneakchart051109.JPG
My own method, The Scales of Justice, combines the best parts of the Banana Method with Reverse Trojanization: I create two sections of burrito foil by adding a single rip opposite the foil's natural opening and then fold over the resulting overage in two-inch increments to create short, sturdy wings while maintaining a slight pleat in the center of each to funnel wayward burrito juices back to the source.

At home, I am completely a Braque Method girl.

The best advice I can give you about Sneaking burritos is not in the thing's execution but in its creation. Carefully consider minimizing the occurrence of drips in your order. Make sure you get rice in the burrito to absorb wayward mole sauce. Tend toward those meat and bean choices that are less moist. Shredded cheese is always a sneakier choice than velvety, insidiously dripping queso. Guacamole, though it retains a more solid consistency than sour cream when added to warm food, still has a tendency to leave a bright green footprint wherever it falls.

  • Wikimedia Commons
It's ethically acceptable to Sneak beer in with your burrito if the theater only sells beer that is vile with Tex-Mex. (Trust me: There are a lot of them.) Whichever you choose, you don't have to go without a twist of lime in your lager. Pre-slice the lime into eight wedges and wrap it, whole, in plastic wrap. Keeping the lime skin intact not only will enhance the flavor of your beer with the peel's essential oils, it will help prevent the lime from squishing in transit. Millions of years of evolution determined that the sturdiest shape for a lime is a sphere -- you and a sharp piece of metal aren't going to improve on that. The whole lime will easily fit in a pocket and may even lead to some citrusy double entendres.

Ooh, is that a lime in your pocket, or are you just happy to see Obsessed?

What the hell is wrong with you, can't you see it's a lime?

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