Lately I’ve been worried that Chipotle has taken my place in my children’s hearts.
This is not unfounded: daily they beg to be ushered into her stunning yet classic bosom that cradles them in both soothing white lights and astonishing modern efficiency. Huffington Post once raved, “What Goethe was to German literature in the 19th century and Picasso was to European painting in the 20th century, Chipotle is to chain-restaurant décor today: the one model whose influence no rival is able to shirk.”
Meanwhile, clearing a space on my cluttered kitchen counter or computers-and-homework-laden dining room table normally takes at least five minutes — time none of us really has to spare. Sadly, I am no Goethe or Picasso of the suburban homemaking set. Score one, Chipotle.
Next, moving on to the heart of the matter, are the meals themselves, which are “served with integrity” at the monolithic Mexican Grill. Sometimes, oh so naively, I feel I could take her on that note. Especially since there are just a handful of options to satiate my kids’ hunger — burritos, tacos, bowls, and salads — and they inevitably order the same things over and over again.
My repertoire is far more varied than Chipotle’s … and yet, sadly that doesn’t seem to matter. There’s just no way my meatloaf or garlic roasted chicken or spaghetti squash casserole can compete with their goddamn steak or, Lord have mercy, sofritas.
I’d make a joke here about how they must sprinkle their food with crack, but A#1) That would be super ’80s of me and B#2) They don’t add anything unpure to their food. An analogy to Walter White’s flawless meth would probably be more on point, but also far more desperate. And if I even knew WTF rice bran oil was (because it’s in a lot of their food), I’d venture a guess that was the key. If only I could replicate it at home…
Speaking of food standards, Chipotle and I are totally on the same wavelength: we both strive to serve non-GMO, locally sourced produce and other ingredients, and Responsibly Raised® (their trademark, not mine) meats. The difference is I am ridiculed and told, “there’s nothing here to eat,” and even my “healthy” junk food (i.e., Trader Joe’s Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips) is rejected, while they scarf up her warm Masa chips that are lightly dusted with some unidentified lime-ish flavor. That can’t be all-natural… or can it? My children could live on that shit (which, technically, they actually do) and probably grow up healthier and stronger to boot. Like the kids in their award-winning scarecrow animated short film who line up to break the cycle of industrial food and choose to “cultivate a better world.”
While I serve pork chops, the one meal the kiddos kinda like, Chipotle has currently removed carnitas from their menu, thanks to their commitment to animal welfare and sustainability. Apparently one of their suppliers wasn’t meeting their stringent requirements, and conventionally sourced pork is not an acceptable option. As I cringe behind a hot wall of shame, I cede this point to Chipotle as well.
And while you might think that Chipotle is winning just the hearts of our children, lemme tell you, their “Cultivating Thought Author Series” campaign says they are vying now for their minds as well. With the faux-innocent query, “Must a cup, or bag, suffer an existence that is limited to just one humble purpose, defined merely by its simple function?” the bitch threw down the gauntlet and hauled in superlative literary giants and thought leaders to write custom “two-minute reads”: Amy Tan, Walter Isaacson, Neil Gaiman, Augusten Burroughs, Jeffrey Eugenides, Julia Alvarez, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Lewis, George Saunders, Steven Pinker, Sheri Fink… Jonathan FUCKING Safran Foer, for Chrissakes! — and comedians, too: Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader, and Judd Apatow. And if the writing doesn’t get you, the killer hipster illustrations will.
Depressed and frankly feeling a bit defeated that it’s Chipotle, not me, that finally got my children to read Amy Tan’s musings on Ghosts over guac and chips, the indignities continue as I glance at the bag I got along with my mouth-watering sofritas bowl and see this quote by the holder of the Guinness World Records’ distinction, “most translated book by a living author,” Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist):
“We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.”
MOTHERFUCKER! Did Chipotle Just call me old??! And is she trying to tell me in brilliant literary fashion that my worst fears have been confirmed… that I have, in fact, been replaced by a burrito? *Sigh* and thank you very little, Chipotle, for handing me a goddamn barbacoa-scented existential crisis.
As I throw away the empty containers, I enjoy feeling like I’m messing with Chipotle’s spotless recycling record (yah, you might have saved 58,000 trees, beyotch, and reduced energy consumption by 95% with your PC, reused soda can lids, but the chain stops here…!). At this point, I know there’s no way I can beat her at any of her games…
And then my son pipes up, “Mom, can you help me with my homework?” While I know full well that he is light years ahead of me now in all of his subjects, I pretend I can, and I pull up a chair next to him to provide moral, if not actual, support.
Chipotle may have won my children’s bodies, minds, and yes, even spirits, but I still got the beans to beat her with: actual human contact.
So if you see me making homemade guac, just know that for my loved ones it’s free (NOT extra, so chew on that!)– and that’s just one more way my lovin’ beats Chipotle’s every damn time. Now excuse me while I go finish my sofritas…
And if you’d like to join the battle, one avocado at a time, here’s their double-secret guacamole recipe to make at home:
6 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup citrus (lemon and lime) juice
3 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups red onion, finely chopped
12 large Serrano chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Using a fork, mash avocados with citrus juice in a small bowl.
Add cilantro, chopped onion, Serrano chili peppers, and salt.
Stir to combine.
Serve with lime-dusted tortilla chips and a crooked smile on your face to indicate that you know you’re beating the dip out of Chipotle.
Viva las madres y los padres… and viva las perras!
Recipe via POPSUGAR