The burrito and the fucking jew lawyer…

So, I have two stories that I feel I need to share.

Growing up in Phoenix, I took it for granded that there would always be a 24 hour mexican food place within a short bike ride from the house. After college came around, and drinking became the thing to do, those same “Betos/Bertos” (so called because of the odd tendency to have a name like “Filbertos” or “Los Betos” or “Alibertos”) became an important weekly destination. The carne asada burrito, fully two pounds of toxic-green guacamole, onions, cilantro, and salty fried meat was the ideal hangover cure, the fatty, crispy carnitas, or eggy machaca would help offset some foolhardy levels of alchohol consumption. A couple of spoonfuls of reconstituted refried beans and a large pepsi would round out what could only be called a meal by the desperately stupid or terribly drunk. If you are what you eat, by the time I turned 23, I was 40% Betos-derived. Possibly more.

Moving to Portland four years ago, I realized there would be sacrifices. I wouldn’t live near Guedo’s Tacos anymore. No more Papago Park mountain bike rides. No more Sunday morning climbs up South Mountain. Aloha Kitchen, gone and forgotten. But I suppose the Betos were so ingrained in me (and there was always a substitute in other towns I had lived, Tucson and San Jose) I never really thought about it.

When I moved to Portland, a series of things happened that obscured this lack of burrito availability. First, I quit smoking. Second, I started riding my bike. Third, my gracious employer dropped my pay $2.50 an hour. Fourth, I moved in with my parents. All of these added up to this: Aaron stopped drinking as much, and almost never went out. Frankly, I was having enough problems with craving cigarettes without the added beer-and-a-smoke trigger, I was trying to get into shape, I had no money to eat out, and my parents weren’t exactly gonna go out and cruise for shitty burros with me.

Now that life has straightened up some, I found that there are a lot of very good mexican food places here in Portland, but nothing that could suit the “It’s 3am and that last beer was a really bad idea” cravings. I believed I was destined to a life of unrequited nocturnal-binge-eating love, never to savor the pickled jalapeno calming my abused gut again.

Until today.

Today, for lunch, I wandered over to 102nd and Halsey-ish and finally worked up the nerve to go into Muchas Gracias, whose entire pitch is “24 hours a day” and “Mexican american food”. They deliver both of those, and a big cambro of midgrade escabeche. It was everything I dreamed it would be, they offered deep fried “Rolled tacos”. Everything had guacamole on it in thick layers. Hefting the monolithic carnitas burrito ($3.80) in my hand, it effortlessly tipped the pointer over from “big” to “lardass”. Fargo ordered a machaca breakfast burrito ($3.50), and I got a side of beans ($1.80 for more beans than I could comfortably eat in a sitting). The carnitas was fried crispy and swimming in a mixture of chopped onions, a light dusting of cilantro (thank the ManJesus), and a double fistful of mashed avocado. The beans were canned or at least dehydration-derived, possessing that skinless brown uniformity that only industrial process can create. The salsas were in the ice tray next to the serve-yourself escabeche (98% carrots, with just a few jalapenos here and there and ornamental onion slices).

I sit here, in elastic waistbanded pants, staring at the still half full container of beans on my desk, in relative ecstasy. Muchas Gracias fully satisfied every bit of my expectations for low-grade industrial chow. My eyes teared up a little, and I think only a little of that is from the pickle juice Fargo squirted in my eye from his pepper.

Another thing I’m beginning to miss is my childhood notion that my dad wasn’t a racist. I either had some vigorous filtering in place, or he’s become more verbal, or something, because my dad is now batting a thousand. In three visits with him, each time, something has inspired him to indicate it was the work of some mysterious cabal of “fucking jew lawyers” (with an optional “from the ACLU” thrown in if we’ve already used just the plain “fucking jew lawyers” too recently to simply repeat).

I mentioned it to my sister, who hasn’t heard this particular phrase from him, but offered a theory. Ever since finding out that my mother’s father came from jewish people fleeing Europe for the new world, suddenly he has a casual connection to the ethnic group, lending him the ability to use the term, much like friends or spouses of black people are excused to use the term “nigger”. The consensus, however, is that he is going to continue his work in advanced epithetical theory until he can comfortably blame everything on some easily dismissable group that he can claim a personal connection to. Either that, or he’s going to finally start using the word “sandnigger” again, as was his fashion for the early half of this decade.

4 thoughts on “The burrito and the fucking jew lawyer…

  1. I love Muchas Gracias. The carne asada burrito with the french fries in it…my compliments to the chef!

    La Casita on 6th and SE Morrison is totally acceptable, and 24hrs if it happens to be closer to you than 9millionth and Halsey. A better 3am option than Montage, to be sure.

  2. My breakfast burrito was good nuff, but Mexican places up here can’t cook eggs for dick. I miss the fluffy excellence of The Burrito & Company like the monkey on my back is shrieking cravings into my soul. Still, the machaca and tortilla was good, and the eggs weren’t bad.

    Not having the flu would likely have made it more pleasant for me.

  3. Sadly, Muchas Gracias is significantly closer than 6th and Morrison. I have some vague regrets about not moving closer in when I bought my house, but there simply wasn’t anything in my price range in the area.

    I satisfy myself with the belief that some day there will be a revolution and the east county rednecks will march on past my street without a second look, homing in on the bandana-pocketed beautiful youth of close in SE with Redman chaw juice flowing down their terrible beards. In this world beyond reason, my sensible car and very-far-east Portland home will endure.

  4. Hipsters v Rednecks! I’d pay the $49.95 for that on HBO.

    I live in fabulous close-in SW, and trust me, there’s more to eat where you live.

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