There’s a burrito restaurant in Aix-en-Provence, a little place called BocaLoca. I’m pretty sure it’s the best Mexican/TexMex place in France (and yeah, I’ve checked). They fashion themselves after a Chipotle/Q’doba-type joint, and keep it simple with no-frills burritos + chips and salsa. As best I can tell, the place is French owned and operated, and for some reason this makes me happy. I had lunch there today, and a somewhat funny conversation. Thought I’d share it.
I walk into the restaurant and up to the counter to place my order. There are three people inside: myself, a manager making the burritos, and a new employee/trainee taking orders and money. (this is all roughly translated out of french for your reading pleasure)
Trainee: Hello, what would you like to eat?
Me: A beef burrito combo, please. No sour cream, extra guacamole, and make it spicy.
Trainee: Ok, 0-5 how spicy?
Trainee: [His eyes widen and he looks up at me] That’s pretty spicy, we don’t do too many like that. Are you sure you want it at 4?
Manager: [Chuckles] Don’t you hear his accent? He’s...
Manager: American. So a 4 to us is like a 2 to him. He’ll be fine.
Trainee: Ok, if you guys say so.
Me: [seeing the manager dip a spoon into the pinto beans] Oh, and I would like black beans on that, not pinto.
Trainee: Oh, I’m sorry, but the black beans are for the chicken burritos, with the beef you can only have pinto.
Manager: [rolls his eyes] No, no, no! What are you saying?! He’s American. He knows this food better than you or I do. Everything that we serve, he knows the tastes and how they mix much better than us. If he asks for black beans he has a reason. We serve black with chicken and pinto with beef to keep it simple for everyone else. But if he wants black, we give him black beans. That’s his taste, it’s ok!
The manager then went into a rather long discourse with the new guy about why they do what they do and how it’s all for keeping ordering simple for people who don’t know what they’re ordering, not because it’s the only way to make or eat it. I stepped back and waited, then talked with the manager for awhile about his salsa recipe (they have really good salsa there!), which apparently came from Boston (who gets a salsa recipe from Boston? whatever, the stuff tastes good). The whole thing just made me laugh.
My wife tells me that to be an expert at something, you have to log 10,000 hours in that field. I wonder if I’ve eaten 10,000 burritos. I’ve lived 10,000 days plus about 3 years. So assuming from the age of 3 on I have averaged a burrito a day, I’m around 10,000. Close? Maybe. Maybe that’s a stretch. Still, between eating, ordering, preparing, and discussing burritos, I think I can call myself an expert. Or, you know, I’m American. That’s good enough, right?