Chipotle recently debuted a campaign to get its customers to read while struggling to wrangle a seventeen-pound burrito at their desks, featuring original short works by 10 renowned authors — Jonathan Safran Foer (who chose the writers for this campaign) and Toni Morrison among them — on its cups and bags. But the fast food chain, while ostensibly inspired by Mexican food, neglected to include any Latino authors in its ChipotLit campaign. Unsurprisingly, many, including The O.C. Weekly‘s Gustavo Arellano, have called out the fast food chain for the exclusion. For their part, Chipotle hasn’t commented on the backlash.
But instead of adding our voice to the outcry, we’ve decided to fix it. Below are some literary works about Chipotle done in the style of various Latino literary figures.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Barbacoa, in the style of Junot Diaz
“Dude, that’s barely even food,” said Sean. “Enchirritos aren’t even a thing.” And he would know; he’d spent a semester in Mexico.1
“Man, I don’t care. I just want to eat.” Guillo Fockner didn’t care about the authenticity of anything that came wrapped in puns or slogans.
“Ok, look, over there,” said Sean, pointing to one of those newer fast food chains that favored a muted palette over oranges and purples. That ish was classy. “It’s no tlyuda from Doña Elena’s kitcken, but it will have to do.” Guillo rolled his eyes as Sean’s voice deepened and clattered over the word “tlyuda.” Guillo was Dominican, man. He didn’t even know what that **** was.2
1 What Sean lacked r-rolling ability, he more than made up for in the concerned looks he’d carefully cultivated. It was the look of someone who’d made a difference by buying a brightly-colored tote bag, of someone who’d seen much suffering from a car window.
2 I mean, come on. He’d grown up on red beans and rice. On juice-adjacent liquids served in pure carcinogen. He’d have to fight off a one-eyed bodega cat named “Wisinyandel” just for a sip. He’d grown up on White Castle and spaghetti with ketchup and Utz chips and tostones. He’d grown up birthday pizza at Discovery Zone, and he was pretty sure Sean had, too.
The Restaurant on Mango Street, in the style of Sandra Cisneros
The storefront was all glass, gleaming with promise. Inside, people hustled, carrying trays, carrying cups. Women in silky pashminas the color of sherbert, recognizing book club names. “Toni,” they cooed. “Jonathan.” “The Outliers guy.” The names fit comfortably in their mouths.
My name, not so comfortable.
Esperanza. Too much hope to fit on a cup, or on a bag, heavy with an approximation of something familiar. Or not.
Fast-casual Mexican dining, too quick and too casual for me.
Love in the Time of Carnitas, in the style of Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reinaldo Cristobal Ochoa Benitez de la Oca Ramirez peered out from beneath the toadstools, his brow wet with morning. The sun painted Bogota in weak watercolors, whites and grays and pale greens bleeding one into the other. Reinaldo Cristobal Ochoa Benitez de la Oca Ramirez rose to a kneeling position and idly brushed the knots from his tail, his legs tucked neatly beneath him. The Ochoa Benitez de la Oca Ramirez clan did not speak much of this branch of their old, proud family, even if they did have lovely tails.
It was then that the young man heard a rustling. He looked up. People rarely ventured into this part of the wood.
The first thing he saw was her cloak, sand-colored bread. It wrapped so lightly around her that her walk was hobbled — small, careful steps upon the dirt.
“Who are you?” he called, wondering if this was an impolite way to address a person wearing bread.
“I am Carnitas,” she whispered. “From the North.”
The old pain rose up within Reinaldo Cristobal Ochoa Benitez de la Oca Ramirez, and he pounced, devouring Carnitas. Then, his belly tight and his heart empty, he dropped to his knees. “I forgot,” he yelled to an unhearing sky beyond the branches, “to ask if she was locally sourced.”
Every Day You Pay (for Burrito Bowls), in the style of Pablo Neruda
Every day you pay for burrito bowls.
Meat, like blossoms, broken and torn
On a bed of lettuce and peppers, like garlands
From a party long over.
This is like nothing else.
A comfort, a staple, deconstructed.
For American hands and American mouths,
Through which gluten shall not pass.
Suddenly the woman howls.
“Would you like a Coke with that?”
I would not. I do not
Even know what this is. A bowl? Of burrito? But how.
The lunch crowd goes by, roaring
“What, no pepper bar?””
I alone can contend against the power of men.
In polo shirts and visors,
Charging extra for guacamole. What a price to pay.
Taco of Venus, in the style of Anais Nin
The grease from the taco dribbled down her chin, leaving it slick and shiny in the florescent lighting of the office kitchen. The man looked, his hands clasping and unclasping around his mug. “World’s Best Mom,” it said.
His voice was thick with longing. “You gonna finish that?” he asked her.
“No,” she told him, sour cream everywhere. “I don’t really get the appeal.”
Update: You can read Chipotle’s response right over here.