Hand-held take-out foods like the burrito have a long history. Before the Spanish colonization of the Americas, indigenous peoples were eating hand-held snack foods like corn on the cob, popcorn and pemmican. In Mexico, the Spanishobserved Aztecs selling take-out foods like tamales, tortillas, and sauces in open marketplaces. The Pueblo people of the desert Southwest also made tortillas with beans and meat sauce fillings prepared much like the modern burrito we know today.
Cuisine preceding the development of the modern taco, burrito, and enchilada was created by the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Aztec peoples of Mexico, whoused tortillas to wrap foods, with fillings of chile sauce, tomatoes, mushrooms, squash, and avocados. Spanish missionaries like Bernardino de Sahagún wrote about Aztec cuisine, describing the variety of tortillas and their preparation, noting that the Aztecs not only used corn in their tortillas, but also squash and amaranth, and that some varieties used turkey, eggs, or honey as a flavoring.Development in Mexico
The word "burrito" appears in the 1895 Diccionario de Mexicanismos, where it is identified as a regional term from Guanajuato and defined as "Tortilla arrollada, con carne u otra cosa dentro, que en Yucatán llaman coçito,y en Cuernavaca y en Mexico, taco" (A rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called 'coçito' in Yucatán and 'taco' in the city ofCuernavaca and in Mexico CIty).
The word burrito means "little donkey" in Spanish, coming from burro, which means "donkey". The name burrito possibly derives from the appearance of a rolled up wheat tortilla, which vaguely resembles the ear of its namesake animal, or from bedrolls and packs that donkeys carried. Tradition tells the story of a man named Juan Mendez who used to sell tacos in a streetstand, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910–1921) in the Bella Vista neighborhood in Ciudad Juárez. To keep the food warm, Mendez wrapped food in large home made flour tortillas inside individual napkins. He had a lot of success, and consumers came from other places around the Mexican border looking for the "food of theburrito" (i.e., "food of the little donkey"), the word they eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.
Development in the United States
In 1923, Alejandro Borquez opened the Sonora cafe in Los Angeles, which later changed its name to the El Cholo Spanish Cafe. Burritos first appeared on American restaurant menus at the El Cholo Spanish Cafe during the 1930s. Burritos werementioned in the U.S. media for the first time in 1934, appearing in the Mexican Cookbook, a collection of regional recipes from New Mexico authored by historian Erna Fergusson.
Burritos are a traditional food of Ciudad Juárez, a city in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, where people buy them at restaurants and roadside stands. Northern Mexican border townslike Villa Ahumada have an established reputation for serving burritos. Authentic Mexican burritos are usually small and thin, with flour tortillas containing only one or two ingredients: some form of meat or fish, potatoes, rice, beans, asadero cheese, chile rajas, or chile relleno. Other types of ingredients may include barbacoa, mole, chopped hot dogs cooked in a tomato and chile sauce,...