Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Embellished Tale of a Black Amexican In Search of a Burrito in the Desert

I've been searching for several months for a Mexican restaurant in Dubai. Finally, I found a place. A major franchise called On the Border.

I order this burrito with some Spanish adjective that implies it's grande. It was more like a red pepper and onion wrap sprinkled with tofu-like chicken cubes. A dash of rice. A pinch of pinto bean beings. And their recipe seemed to not include cheese.

The waitress asks me if I want a margarita...aka a Slurpee aka frozen Kool-Aid aka Slush Puppy. No alcohol. Contains 10% fruit juice high fructose corn syrup with finely minced ice made of Mexican, I mean, Dubai water. Dubai water isn't unlike Mexican water. Nothing is a coincidence.

No, thanks. I digress.

If you don't like your meal in Dubai, you don't get your pesos back. The attitude here is "tough shit-kebab, puta."

With her telescopic stare, the lurking waitress is aiming at the plate I pushed to the other side of the table finally comes over and asks if I was done. I said yes, duh. She asked me how I liked it.

It, the burrito, sitting there as the severely injured, rare survivor of the gastronomic leviathan...

One bite and you ask me how I liked it?!

I told her it was the worst burrito I've ever had in my life.

She actually laughed.

I said to her, "I tell you I just ate the worst burrito in my life, I'm hungry and could've spent my money elsewhere and you laugh?!"

She asks me if I'd like it in a box.

Why? So I can eat the worst microwaved reheated burrito in the world later?!

Her face shuts down.

She walks away. Never to return. Typical Dubai restaurant service.

Another waiter happens by my table and asks me if he could get me anything. I ask for my bill. He brings it. Still no sign of the clown queen of comedy service.

I put my money inside the fold and write on the bill: THIS WAS THE WORST BURRITO I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.

The manager, El Jefe, comes to my table, as I hoped. I expected the norm.

But wait! He actually apologizes and doesn't want to take my money. He asks where I'm from. I tell him. He says, "I'm also from America," in his heavy indistinguishable non-western English as a second language accent.

I said, "Really?" He said he lived there for twenty years (in Minnesota, Nebraska or something) and wanted me to know that all the ingredients they use are from Texas--birthplace of the burrito in a manger under a star that led three wise Vatos Locos on burros by a virgin tortilla.

He was proud of his ingredients' Texas origins. He looked at me with that "Ha, I gotcha" look. Everything is mas grande in Texas, like brains, right?

I said to him, "The fact that you import your fresh aka festering ingredients from halfway across la galaxia doesn't really help your cause. Not only that, this salsa's made in New York City!"

The two cowboys in the booth across from me were flabbergasted. They yelled, "New York City?! ....Get a rope." (For you old schoolers who know that commercial.)

El Jefe insisted that "The ingredients are from America...from TEXAS!" So his burrito couldn't be nasty. I mean, of course. After all, having ingredients from's like, wait...we've been teleported to TEXAS via quantum burrito technology. It's like real Mexicans from the mythical 51st state of Mexington, Alabama made it right in el barrio, holmes.

I digress.

So I told him, "Hermanito, really, where you get your ingredients has nothing to do with how you prepare a burrito. You're, ahem, American, you should know a real burrito when you see one. In fact, I'd wager that you might even have a little Mexican in you." He grimaced at that statement.

Look at El Jefe again:

Now put him in, say, a different non-American cultural set of clothing...Hmmmm...I'm just saying. Looks like my Uncle Shyquan Julio Ahmed Inglesias. We're all from the same gang, hombre.


Short of pulling a midget Mexican right out of his ass, he says he's been to Texas, thus to Mexico. And all Americans know that Texas belongs to Mexico. As does California and Minnesota. And Vermont. No one wants Canada. Except maybe Idaho. But no one wants Idaho. Except the Native Americans--who didn't believe in private property until theirs was taken by the rabies, scabies, gangrene, syphilis, common cold, bullet-firing Anglo-Mexans.

Orale esse, I digress.

He asks me what was muy malo with it. Other than being nasty? I explained to him what a proper burrito is. Being American, that makes me 1/3 Mexican by default (But 0/3 Canadian). So I should know. And I should stand up for my culture. I mean, imagine I opened a Canadian restaurant (Canuck-a-Yuck) located in Bangladesh and I make the bacon in triangles? Canucks would go crazy and start making incomprehensible jokes, eh. Besides, authentic Canadian food consists of only one thing: round bacon, eh. Nothing else. So it would be stupid to get THAT wrong. Oh, they have this wonderful Italian ice made from hockey rink slush. But that's still Italian.

I digressed, eh?

And El Jefe of On the Border looked like he could be Mexican, but I dare not say that to him because you should never tell brown skinned non-Blacks/Non-Mexicans that they could easily pass for a Black person or a Mexican, if they're not. They hate it, but will kinda act like they don't. But you can see it on their faces. Somehow imply they're Anglo and you will become their new minority friend. By the way, don't tell Latinos that they're related to Black people, either, hombre.

I digress, vato.

He shakes my hand germs and does the honorable thing--gave me an unheard of before in Dubai free non-meal. Which is far better than a paid for non-meal, chico.

Never make the assumption that because a Mexican-themed restaurant is staffed by Filipinos that their tyrannical Latin ancestry somehow translates across the aether as having the innate ability to make an awesome burrito. Because although I have Anglo Gringos in my lineage, it doesn't mean I know how to properly tie a knot.

Por la vida, esse...


  1. You sir, have just described a very similar situation to living in montreal, i.e. The tré, The MTL, Temptation Island.

    Had I the desire or entrepreneurial moxie to open a real auténtico restaurante mexicano, I might be raking it in, Scarface-style.

    You'd see me in a white linen suit, face down in a pile of masa harina, molcajete at the ready, with a bevy of scantily-clad Latinas rolling out some big ass tortillas to the right. I would stumble from the table, gaze out over the fake-frenchies in the streets, eating from my chain of taco wagons, and turn to my honeys with crazed bloodshot eyes and say in a faux latin accent: Welcome to the Empire!

    But then I realize, if the detritus that tends to pass for South Of The Next Border After This is actually thriving in Montreal (also the land of bad service) then maybe I wouldn't be raking it in. Indeed, perhaps I'd be casting my burritos before swine, so to speak. Burrito, mi gusta.

    All I know is, I never thought I'd well up with tears at the site of Chipotle chain upon returning to America for a brief sojourn, but there you go.

    I do not know about you, Señor Frenzy, but since leaving behind the amber waves of tortillas and frijoles negroes majesty, I have an endless hole in mi corazon that can only be filled with salsa caliente and deep green guacamole.

    I have also found a deeper solidarity and connection with my Latin Brothers and Sisters and their fine ass cuisine.

    Hoy soy un mexicano!

    Now please for the love of everything pure and decent in this world, somebody ship me a taco or something before I wrap myself in the fetal position like a mini empanada.

    k thanks.

  2. lmao!! i should write the companion blog of similar philly specific absurdities...except el jefe was actually kind of "nice" so the two don't really compare :/ but i digress...;)

  3. Hilarious! I loved the ode to the old el paso commericals. You have a true gift, share it with the world.

  4. All I can say is... ROFLMBLMWAO! (BLMW=blacklatinomexicanwhite)

    When I moved to VA (lol) it was damn near impossible to find a mexican food restraunt that wasn't Taco Bell. And I Love Taco Bell but it's not El Torito, I know that much.

    Ewww! I'm sorry sugar! When you need some Mexican food you REALLY NEED Mexican food.

    Bummer dude.

  5. I had a similar experience with Chinese food in Costa Rica. I didn't have the juevos to tell the server how displeased I was, but I'm sure they never see the same gringa twice in that place. i couldn't believe how unlike chinese food it really was. we are truly blessed here in the states to have immigrants who give us food that is at least a decent replica of their exquisite native cuisine.
    what an experience; what a hilarious blog!

  6. Thank you for the pleasure of reading this entry. :-D

  7. Canuck-a-yuck! Lol! Love it!

  8. I do know how you feel--the Irish can't make anything even close to Mexican/Chinese/Italian. The Chinese people here don't even make good Chinese food! The Irish make boiled vegetables, boiled potatoes, baked chicken with no seasonings, and cover it all in gravy. And for that dude in VA--in this land of potatoes and brussel sprouts I would kill for a Taco Bell--so count your blessings!!

  9. hey huneterino, loving your work man, mand of course i live right above said establishment. I had a Thai curry here in Dubai the other day that was full of garam masala and served to me by smiling Bangladeshis. Thats Dubai! as everyone says he.
    Hope you are keeping well - see you in a food court near you soon. Lee-Ann

  10. Thank you for this Hunt. Really, you made my day :o)