Henry Ford may have invented the assembly line, but Chipotle has perfected it. I couldn’t feel less human than when I go to Chipotle, and I can’t take it any longer. I’m finally taking a stand and from hereon out I am openly committed to never going there again.
It’s basically not possible to eat “light” there. Let me walk you through the process.
They start with the biggest tortilla you’ve ever seen; it’s massive, both in circumference and in thickness. This Frisbee o’ flour seems intentionally undercooked to maximize doughiness; thus, ensuring enough elasticity to accommodate the obscene amount of slop they manage to stuff in there. Moreover, the thing acts as a gluten-formed barricade forcing everything in your stomach to literally lodge in one place for no less than an hour while you groan and moan to your co-workers or loving wife mutters, “I told you so”.
They use a custom designed tortilla press, a lifeless metal instrument that belongs in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, to heat and further soften the tortilla. Next, it’s time for the fixings… this is where the real industrial light and magic begins. Warning, have your hand on the Jeopardy buzzer if you want a snowballs chance in hell of saying NO to any of the ingredients.
White or brown rice and white or black beans go in first. This initial step is facilitated with two massive commercial grade spoons. They look like something you might find in a prison kitchen used to stir the mystery gulag… cold… evil… muahahahahaha.
At this point they should wrap up this gut bomb and call it a day. But wait, there’s more. From a customer’s vantage point, I can’t imagine packing it any tighter and still being able to roll this monstrosity up. But of course they do. Incidentally, good luck trying to stop the conveyer belt now. Throwing that kind of cog into the machine this early gets you many a stink eye from the system operators.
It appears these “burrito artists” are on a mission. Maybe they are incentivized to beat the world record for the most ridiculously huge burritos built in an hour, or they just want to do permanent cardiac damage to as many human beings as possible by the time their shift ends. Either way, once you start, there’s no going back.
Next is the meat. They give you a smorgasbord of options all of which look amazing as they glisten in the heat lamp hue; but of course, they aren’t: consult your lower intestines later to confirm.
The meat stop is aggressively catered using another prison spoon, but this time with convenient holes punched in the middle to allow just enough Au Jus to drip through before soiling the tortillas. Although, if you don’t eat fast enough, that tightly packed nugget of sloth begins to leak anyway. They’re clever to make the whole “building” process look like an art with the end product appearing as if Leonardo da Vinci himself rolled it. Patrons leave the counter all smiles which serves to trick the mind into thinking they’re about to embark on a grand tour through taste bud heaven. Trust me, you aren’t.
Now for the glorious toppings — start with the healthy pico de gallo and just when you thought the process would slow up just a bit to give the customer at least the illusion of some input or control in the process, the belt literally accelerates.
“Wait, slow down, just a little salsa…no, wait, too much”… Sorry bub, no stopping now, take it or get to the back of the line. Straight up, this is some high school lunch lady drama happening here.
“Spicy or mild”, they ask in an eerily robotic voice. Keep an ear out for the shorthand phrases spoken by design to keep their momentum going. A nice improvement to Ford’s system where workers actually spoke in full sentences, which wasted precious time I imagine.
Splat! Whether you choose spicy or mild you will get a huge glopping cup full of dark or light colored red sauce (as the case may be).
Yup, they can stuff corn in there too and now you’re thinking “it sure is getting wet in there, no doubt it’s going to breakdown”… nope, the show must go on.
God no. As tempting as the sour cream is, don’t go there. If you can stop them, I implore you to do it. But they’re on auto-pilot at this point, so count on your burrito looking like it just got a Christmas tree flocking. Literally, nothing but white as far as the eye can see; and its not thick and civilized like the sour cream you buy in the market. It looks like they opened a dozen fake creamer packets and dumped them on the baby arm burrito you’re about to pound.
Adding guacamole to that beast? Go for it, but it’s an extra buck. And if you’re paying for it, you know there’s no skimping. Holy shit, it must have taken 3 avocados to make as much as they put on there. The very natural looking light green color (are you sensing the sarcasm yet, because I’m laying it on pretty heavy) is now starting to mix with the white cream and a yellow ooze starts flowing toward the edge of the tortilla. You know they ain’t havin’ no burrito that won’t close, or worse, one that leaks before its time.
Gotta get that sucker wrapped up stat. They seemed programmed to skip the lettuce. It’s there, hidden in the last possible bucket on the assembly line, but its a total afterthought. You gotta move hella quick if you actually want something healthy along with the belly punch you’re about to receive.
Bam. They close that shit before you can even blink. Now for the final slap in the face. “Oh, you want 3 cents worth of chips on the side do ya? Um, yeah, that’s $1.50 extra.” Huh? Are you kidding me, I couldn’t get them to reduce the volume on the expensive stuff, now all I want is something fried to give my heart that little extra oomph, and you want to nickel and dime me for it. Laaaaaame!
Well, that’s how it goes. They’ve created a real, modern marvel of industrial innovation at Chipotle. But even as someone who loves progress and invention, I just can’t permit myself to voluntarily run into a house on fire.
Chipotle may as well be making Soylent Green because by the time I leave, I feel like I’ve been ground into mincemeat.