Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Chipotle blog.

I’m glad I didn’t write this headline: “The Battle for Hollywood Entertainment – Blockbuster Raises the Anti.” I’m researching the video rental industry, and came across that today.

I persist in calling it “video” rental—short for videotape, a dying medium, but also a component of digital video disc, after all. For those of you not paying close attention, and there’s no reason you should, the video store chain Blockbuster has made a hostile bid for that other video store chain, Hollywood, whose board has already promised to sell it to yet another (but smaller) chain, Movie Gallery. A corporate dustup, as the public flees to Netflix.

My brother Jay was intrigued by the thought of an Aztec chain restaurant (see yesterday), and wrote: “I, for one, look forward to reading about the country's only Aztec restaurant chain. Would I be correct in thinking that you're referring to a type of food and not the style of management or social organization? Raiding the nearby Chili's for sacrificial victims to propitiate the wholesale grocery gods and keep the supplies coming would almost certainly be looked on without favour by the authorities in even the most diversity-sensitive community.

“Which reminds me of Sir Charles James Napier, conqueror of the Sind, when a delegation came to explain the importance of suttee in the culture of the country: ‘You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.’ ”

Of course, my restaurant experience was at Chipotle, which has that Aztec ring to it. I was only vaguely aware of that word’s use in Mexican cuisine, so I found this at GourmetSluth.com: “Chipotles chilies peppers are smoked jalapeno chili peppers, and are also known as chili ahumado. These chilies are usually a dull tan to coffee color and measure approximately 2 to 4 inches in length and about an inch wide. As much as one fifth of the Mexican jalapeno crop is processed into chipotles.

"Chipotles date back to region that is now northern Mexico City, prior to Aztec civilization. It’s conjectured that the Aztecs smoked the chilies because the thick, fleshy, alapeno was difficult to dry and prone to rot. The Aztecs used the same "smoke drying" process for the chilies as they used for drying meats. This smoking allowed the chilies to be stored for a substantial period of time.

“Today Chipotles are used widely throughout Mexico as well as in the United States. Quite popular in the southwestern U.S. and California, Chipotles have found their way into the cuisine of many celebrity chefs from Hawaii to Manhattan.”

Now the term has been pressed into the service of the McDonald’s empire, for indeed the 400 or so Chipotles are owned by that company, and have been for about five years, though when you compare it to the 13,000 or McDonald’s in the United States alone, it’s a small province. (And, word is that McDonald’s might sell off its Chipotle operations soon.)

As for the actual experience, it was like eating lunch inside a thermos jug. More on that tomorrow.


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