The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Monday, May 14, 2012

Burritos of London

When I was visiting London a couple of years back, I was surprised by the number of burrito places that I saw.  When I had traveled to the Midwest, the Rockies, or even up the west coast a bit farther north, I had been severely disappointed with the quality of the Mexican food that I usually encountered.  In some places it was simply poor quality or preparation, while in others (especially in Aspen, Co), it was that someone had managed to take very high quality ingredients, and through a particular upper-class form of high skilled preparation, make them into something astoundingly bland and uninteresting.

I had, in short, thought of burritos as a food best eaten in Mexico, California, Arizona, and Texas.

And here I was, in London, noticing a large number of burrito shops.  Not taquerias, as I would see at him, min you, but burrito shops.  In London.  Unlike Aspen, not even on the same continent as Mexico.  What the hell?

Of course, this shouldn't have surprised me.  London is a huge, cosmopolitan city.  People from every nation on Earth have migrated to London, just as has happened with San Francisco, Tokyo, New York, Paris, etc. etc.  So, really, there are Mexicans living in London.  What's more, some of them are likely chefs or cooks, and the presence of Mexican food, and specifically the ever-popular burrito, shouldn't have surprised me.

And yet it did.

I am not someone who demands the "authentic local" dining experience when I go somewhere.  Yes, I will eat the local foods, and usually enjoy them (the food was easily the highlight of my trip to Japan, for example, and I wasn't even eating high quality food there, it was just really tasty), but I am aware that I am am an outsider, and as such, I don't have any illusions that I am living as a local even as I try to see and do what I can.  Nor am I one of those people who adopts the attitude that food prepared far away from it's point of origin must necessarily be bad. I have had excellent Italian food, excellent French food, and excellent Japanese food in places nowhere near any of those countries, so there is no reason why I couldn't get a good burrito in London.

And yet I was afraid to even try.  I can make excused - I was worried that the sauce would be insufficiently spicy, or that the meats would be inappropriately seasoned, or some such thing.  But none of this was true.  The simple fact of the matter is that, somehow, and I cannot put my finger on why, a burrito just seemed horribly out of place in England.  I could accept curry, I could accept tomatoes (which, like burritos, come from the Americas), I could accept Japanese katsu in London, but I could not, for some bizarre reason, accept burritos.

I have no idea why this was.  But it makes me curious.  Is there any food that you, the readers, enjoy, but could not bring yourselves to eat while visiting a particular place?


Sokieta said...

While not a food that I love, when I was in China I really wanted to try dog. Every time the opportunity presented itself I couldn't do it. It was not because of some kind of sentimental attachment to a childhood pet, but in part because I was worried I would find it particularly delicious.

On another note Preston has some very tasty burritos with amazing guacamole. It is a Caribbean take away shop. (Cocos Soul Food).

Anthroslug said...

Had you tried it, do you think dogs back home would have spread rumors? "Don't trust here, she's developed a taste for dog flesh!"

Weatherwax said...

Way back in the 80's my mother interviewed for a job in Point Barrow, Alaska. The nothern most point of North America, and inside the Actic Circle.

The only resturant in town was 'Pepys North of the Border' Mexican food.

Anthroslug said...

Yeah, "north of the border" is something of an understatement in that case.