Burrito Jacket

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30″x12″ Hand Cut, Hand Sewed Felt Appliqué

To wit: In the rich culinary tradition

 of Mexico, the maize tortilla has from time immemorial been an essential basic, the small ocher disk on which an entire cuisine was erected. But alas, Mexican émigrés venturing toward El Norte encountered an alien agriculture woefully short on corn. The result, in the dusty villages of the borderlands, was the birth of the wheat flour tortilla.

To many the thing looked all wrong and lacked the toothsome taste of cornmeal. But Chicano culture is nothing if not inventive, and it soon became apparent that wheat has something that corn lacks. This is the elastic substance called gluten, an ingredient that allowed border dwellers more than a century ago in the hinterlands of the Sonora-Arizona region to pull and stretch their flour tortillas to great new dimensions. Corn tortillas enlarged to such a size would have cracked and crumbled, which is why you scarcely find burritos in Mexico.

The gigantic flour tortilla proved ideal as a leakproof wrapper—a veritable suitcase—for hungry Sonoran miners to carry their rice and beans to the mineral finds in the Southern California desert, then north with the rest of the ’49ers. From the dross of cornless cookery, the burrito emerged like a nugget of gold.

-SF Weekly