These are strange days for San Francisco burritos.
On the one hand, it is the best of times: San Francisco-style burritos are more popular than ever before. Quant-geeks rate them. Big chains mass-produce them. Yet with this culinary clout comes the inevitable copycats who seek to offer San Francisco-style burritos on far-distant shores — often with mixed results. Now, in one such effort to capture the spirit of the San Francisco burrito far away from the actual tierra that provides its substance, Bernal Heights has become a casualty.
Or rather, “Dernal Heights.”
The photo you see above was taken at the newest outlet of the burgeoning Mission Burrito restaurant chain, in Brindleyplace, Birmingham, England:
We can’t say much about the quality of the burritos from Mission Burrito (especially after so much long-distance travel), but we did notice a nontrivial problem with the big map of San Francisco painted on the wall of the new Brindleyplace location. Look just south of the Mission District on the wall map shown in this Brindleyplace store photo-montage, and you’ll see a shape that accurately replicates the outline of our own neighborhood.
But it is labeled “Dernal Heights.”
(Note: We stand in solidarity with our urban neighbors to the northeast, who apparently live in “Retrero Hill.”)
In light of this embarrassing faux pas, and even more heinous crimes against burritodom such as this, none other than Burrito Justice, La Lengua’s rebel spokesblogger and carnitas-fueled provocateur, has taken it upon himself to codify a set of standards governing what is and is not a proper burrito:
Despite our best efforts, we are seeing escalating threats, both international and domestic, against the sanctity of burritos. This must cease.
By the powers vested in me by the City and Country of San Francisco, Junipero Serra and Febronio Ontiveros, I hereby declare BURRITO LAW:
If you pull off all the foil, it is no longer a burrito.
If you touch it with a knife and fork, it is no longer a burrito
We frankly cannot believe these first two statutes are necessary but that is what things have come to, folks. It is indeed an era so dark that our next statue is sadly required. Brace yourselves:
If you get it outside the Bay Area, it is no longer a burrito.
That’s right people, not all cylinders are created equal. We have no choice but to implement appellation d’origine contrôlée de burrito: if it’s not made in a county that touches San Francisco Bay, it’s not a burrito. (OK, fine, Santa Cruz too. Any county that touches a county that touches the Bay. But we get to disqualify any burritos in these secondary counties. Caveat Burritor.)
These are rigid criteria, to be sure. But as the Citizens of Dernalwood, the necessity of such standards is now painfully clear for all to see. Because a durrito from distant lands is not a burrito that can be trusted to get the details right.
PHOTOS: Mission Burrito