At El Chubby’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Aurora, we know what makes a burrito a burrito. If you haven’t tried one of ours yet, we invite you to come on in and treat yourself. Everything here is grilled to order and you can have it prepared the way you like. Yes, that means burritos, too.
So, what makes a burrito a burrito? The word, burrito, translates to “little donkey” and some believe that the delicious burrito we all know and love got its name because it looked like the bedrolls that donkeys would often carry on their backs.
A burrito is typically a flour tortilla with filling like rice, cheese, sour cream, beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, and vegetables. In Mexico, it’s traditionally much simpler, containing meat and beans. Burritos are carefully wrapped up and completely close around their filling. The outer flour tortilla is often lightly grilled or steamed to make it soft and keep it closed when wrapped.
The burrito has expanded into many different versions. The American breakfast burrito contains scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese, sausage or ham wrapped up in a flour tortilla. A wet burrito (sometimes called smothered) is covered with a red or green chili sauce and melted cheese. Some say the wet burrito was first introduced at The Beltine Bar in Michigan in 1966.
How about a chimichanga? This is a simply a deep-fried burrito and popular in Southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisines. And there’s the burrito bowl made of burrito fillings, minus the tortilla.
The burrito’s history goes back to the people of Mexico who used corn tortillas to wrap foods with fillings like avocados, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers. The Pueblo from the Southwestern part of the United States also used tortillas filled with beans, meat and sauce.
As for the origin of the burrito that we know today, no one really knows who first invented it. There are lots of stories about people and regions claiming responsibility for creating the burrito. Some people believe it was started by the Mexican-American community. We know that many farmworkers in California’s Central Valley ate flour tortillas with beans and salsa. However, others believe it came from northern Mexico in the nineteenth century.
One story is that a man named Juan Méndez sold food from a street cart in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Ciudad Juarez using a donkey. To keep food warm, he’d wrap it in a large flour tortilla. A different story focuses on another food vendor in the same city who sold tortilla-wrapped food to poor children at a school in the 1940s, calling the children his burritos.
Prior to this story, reports show that a cafe in Los Angeles sold burritos in 1923 and burritos were seen on American menus in the 1930s. Burritos then evolved as they moved north in the 1970s with the creation of a Mission burrito, named after the San Francisco neighborhood where they were first invented and still enjoyed today. This version is a large tortilla stuffed with beef, rice, beans, sour cream, and onion all wrapped in foil.
Further south, San Diego became home of the famous California burrito, which usually contains chunks of carne asada meat, cheese, and either cilantro, sour cream, onion, pico de gallo, and guacamole. And don’t forget the ingredient that makes this burrito famous, french fries!
In Mexico, burritos are mostly popular in the northern part of the country and are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two ingredients that may include: some form of meat or fish, beans, asadero cheese, potatoes, rice, chile rajas or chile relleno.
So, what makes a burrito a burrito? As you can see, a lot of history, many delicious evolutions and even a bit of mystery. As for what goes into making our amazing burritos at El Chubby’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Aurora, you’ll just have to come in and try them out for yourself.