The burrito, although a most unassuming fare, is in fact a rudimentary element of one’s culinary training. Burritos, in their Americanised taco-in-a-tortilla form, are a speedy and widely-accepted resolution for almost any empty stomach and have the flexibility of being both simple to prepare (once the art has been sufficiently grasped) and well-received when guests are around (depending of course on the caliber of the guests; there are, I grant, yet higher pinnacles of cookery which one may need to attain to satisfy certain classes of visitor).
The first and most portentous obstacle that the novice faces in this time-honoured endeavour is the choice of primary filling. Burritos are most commonly established around a chicken base, but do not be fooled by the seeming self-evidence of this; for ours is a society ravaged by the plague of vegetarianism, and many a promising evening meal has descended into shameful and violent incidents involving chicken bits up the bottom and spindly protein-starved limbs snapped in two over this issue. Conversely, you may also suffer on occasion a browbeating from burly beef-purists who insist that all meals be established around, at the very least, mince. Attempting to reconcile such polarised lifestyles at your function is futile; the only solution is to refine your intuition to such a level that you can predict your guests’ respective preferences. For this reason, only the highly perceptive individual should attempt burrito-based hospitality.
Having determined the correct filling, whether it be chicken or beef or beans and broccoli, you must spend substantial time in preparation for the undertaking. Relax a little, calm yourself, and lay out your tools and ingredients. Observe the onion. Its spherical form is truly a geometrical marvel, but highly inappropriate for the purpose of cookery. You will need to subdue it into rings or chunks with a large knife. Run the onion under water once you have peeled it, lest its noxious fumes overcome you and render you incapacitated before the true crusade has even begun. This is an ideal point at which to employ the faux helpfulness of any poor pawn that asks, "Do you need a hand with that?" It’s cruel, but sometimes these sacrifices must be made for the sake of greater triumph.
Spend the rest of this time of repast in the luxurious chopping and slicing of any other ingredients involved in the primary filling, such as broccoli or carrot or any other bizarre manner of vegetable that you deign to put in the mix. When you feel ready, take a breath and turn on the hotplate.
Next you will need to find a saucepan and lubricate it sufficiently for the coming activities. Pour oil generously over its salubrious interior and spread it all around, letting it glide with increasing ease as the surface heats up in prickling anticipation of the wicked pleasures that await it. Add your onion, eviscerated and subdued, and stir it around until its firmness has been vanquished in soft surrender. Add meat, if that is an element of the path you have chosen on your personal burrito endeavour, and allow the gooey lifeblood of the slain creature to wane and brown – grayish for mince; goldish-brown for chicken.
Having stayed this far through the instructional text, you are now about to be entrusted with the most sacred and carefully-kept secret of the cooking process – none other than the flavouring. A shop-bought burrito mix, do I hear you tentatively suggest? No no, my dear naïve pupils; the wise cook will shun such barefaced exploitation of ignorance and scorn the cynical offerings of the peddlers and profiteers. Such pre-prepared mixes are carefully-disguised manifestations of a very simple combination; their ingredients lists filled with red herrings to lead the uninitiated into blind acceptance of their sophistical claims to sole mastery of the One True burrito flavour. Go forth, be it to the cupboard or to the shop, and bring back but two humble spices:
Cumin and paprika.
Now laugh at the devilry of those pre-prepared packaged flavour-making people as you add about a teaspoonful of each to your mixture, testing its potency with small samples, and noting how outstandingly identical the product becomes to its shamefully more expensive counterpart. Add a little chilli powder if you are so inclined, then take a step back and marvel at your own mastery, for on this day you have become a burrito guru.
Now recompose yourself, for the task is not yet complete. Assuming that your sampling has not unacceptably depleted the meal (in which case, shame; you are not a burrito guru but a burrito glutton! Defeated husk of a man or woman! Retreat wretchedly to a Taco Bell and bother me no more!), you need to add liquid in the form of water or, if you are too weak of character to accept the flavours in their unadulterated form, crushed tomatoes. Turn the heat down now, for your subject has been sufficiently tortured in the flames to bend to your will and will only break and burn if you continue with such intense persecution.
While the main fare is bubbling gently in controlled excruciation, step back again into the welcome respite of preparation and take time to find that calm place once more, where your soul will be revived and alert for the final flourish. When you feel ready, take up your weapons anew and mercilessly hack apart your lettuce, grate your cheese and dash your ripe tomatoes into a thousand tiny pieces. Wrench the lid from your salsa jar and banish your tortillas to a hot oven or high-powered microwave and leave them until one long minute has passed.
Finally, after several minutes of simmering agony, remove your main ingredients from the stove and observe the majesty you have wrought from such a delicate balance of loving preparation and merciless subjugation.
Do not be tempted at this point to cling to your control over the artwork. Take the separate components to the table and trust in the good judgment of your distinguished guests to determined the correct proportion of ingredients for each, accepting like any responsible parent that your work must come to an end and each burrito be left to its own destiny. Accept with humility your new role and advise and counsel your guests on how to fold a burrito in the elegant manner of your kind, then return one last time to that calm place where you may now observe the magnificent fruits of your labour in the euphoric moans and burps of your companions, and the lingering gratitude in their eyes for the wondrous gastronomical gift you have imparted them.