We were searching for the best burrito in the city. No, strike that. We were searching for the best burrito in the SMSA. In our work we try not to overlook the suburbs–even though we live in a condo that overlooks many suburbs. So we searched to bring you the best burrito. Not to bring it to you, but to tell you about it so you could bring it to yourself. So you could ask a waitress, grinning or not, from a dark-skinned country–totalitarian, authoritarian, or not–to order it for you in a language you maybe half understood. As we did.
We were searching for the biggest burrito. No, the best burrito. And we got into our car with our pseudonyms strapped in the backseat.
Our first stop was a Mexican place in West Town. The burritos were plump, filled with avocado and fine burrito filler: refried beans and lettuce. A bon mot occurred to us: No, we don’t want them refried; if you can’t do it right the first time. . . . But we refrained. And ate our burritos.
And we pondered.
They were good burritos. We ordered another to share. It was a manly burrito. A classic burrito. As honest as the hands of a man who has worked a good honest day in Field’s. We began to note the ambience: the whir of the rusty juicer, the sparkle of the grimy yellow tile walls, the rhythm of the charmingly low-class music on the speakers. The neighborhood clientele were chattering loudly but endearingly with their foreign tongues.
We knew if we told you about it, you would go there. You would not be as sedate or appreciative as we were, with our pseudonyms carefully placed in the chairs next to us.
The waitress noticed us noticing the ambience. She brought more burritos. They were good burritos, fine plump burritos. Better than the first, except we were full of burritos and could no longer discern the subtle, buttery, nutlike quality of the avocado; the snappy hello! of the iceberg lettuce; the I-have-been-there-and-backness of the refried beans; the je ne sais d’ou of the onions.
We began to wonder why we were searching for the best burrito. We thought it had something to do with secular humanism. Or pluralism. Or democracy in the marketplace. Our pseudonyms mentioned Thorstein Veblen and his famous analysis of conspicuous consumption, but we hushed them up, threatening to banish them to the car.
We want to help the consumer make intelligent decisions. We respect the disposable income of the palates in our circulation area. We respect the burrito. We want to help raise up the lowly burrito to executive status–along with steak, ribs, pizza (thin and thick, New York and Chicago style, holding and not holding anchovies), French fries, French toast, French onion soup, French pastry, French roast, and foodstuffs of unknown origin.
We were ending our first stop in the quest for the ultimate burrito. We were happy that none of the interesting neighborhood color had bashed in our windows with a clean swift blow and stolen our fine custom-designed speaker system. We were stuffed. We had ten more restaurants to examine. We decided to drive to a five-star Gold Coast espresso bar where we carefully rated our dinner. We gave the Mexican restaurant a 7 and affixed to it 4.5 stars. Then we scoured our notes.
We knew the address.
We knew the hours.
We knew that you did not need reservations and could write a check if you lived in the neighborhood.
We knew that only one credit card was acceptable.
In short, we knew Who, What, When, Where, and How.
We had found out all that we had wanted to find out, in fact–except Why.
When we admitted this out loud, we thought we heard Veblen chuckle.