Tag Archives: Chipotle

Extreme fundraising

What’s the wackiest event held in your home town?

Where I live, it would be a near three-way tie among the Kensington Labor Day Parade and Festival, the Fourth of July Bike Parade and the Burrito Mile relay, with the Burrito in the lead.

My son ran the Burrito Half-Mile relay in high school. I had forgotten about it until yesterday, when our community paper ran a front-page story about this year’s race. It’s good to know it’s still alive as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and funny that I should see the story after returning from dinner at Chipotle.

Being a contestant in the Burrito relay—or a spectator for that matter—isn’t for the faint of heart. Or the weak of stomach.

We all know that, in a typical relay race, the first runner takes a baton and runs around the track the required number of times, then hands the baton to the second runner, who runs and hands it off to the third runner and so on, until the fourth runner, or anchor, crosses the finish line.

My son ran track all four years of high school, so relays were a way of life for him, his friends and us. We never missed a meet. It stood to reason, then, that we’d take our place in the stands at the first Burrito relay held at Walter Johnson, our son’s high school and the first to host the fundraiser. WJ no longer officially supports the race for health reasons; I’ll get to that in a minute.

Here’s how it works. Each player brings a one-pound Chipotle or Qdoba burrito to the race, to serve as his or her baton.

When the gun goes off, each team’s starting runner first eats his burrito and then runs the first leg of the race, carrying the burrito of his teammate in position #2, which he hands off to #2 after running his one- or half-mile leg. Runner #2 scarfs his burrito, and runs his leg, carrying #3’s burrito and so on.

As with a conventional relay race, the fastest team wins. In the Burrito, eating speed is as important as running speed. Vomiting ensues—at the finish line, during the race and, potentially, in the stands.

Considering the prevalence of eating disorders among teens, one might see why a high school principal wouldn’t touch this with a ten-foot pole, or a baton, or a one-pound burrito.

Following the event last Saturday, The Gazette noted that the record-holder, Greg Wegner, ran the whole 4-by-800-meter relay by himself last year. “At the time, he set the record when he ate four burritos over the course of a two-mile run and finished in 51 minutes and 10 seconds.” It further states that Wegner survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and stroke at the age of three. I suppose any challenge after that would be a minor hurdle.

I ask again, what wacky–and newsworthy–events go on in your community?

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Picante parenting

Stories of extreme parenting techniques have gotten a lot of attention lately. First it was Yale law professor Amy Chua, the so-called Tiger Mother, who bragged in a recent book about depriving her daughters of all things social and calling one child “garbage” for being disrespectful.

Now, it’s the practice of “hot-saucing,” or washing a sassy kid’s mouth out with hot sauce, as a mother of six recently did—and was charged with child abuse.

I imagine some parents, upon hearing this news, might say they wish they had thought of hot sauce. Not I. Not because giving a young child hot sauce might be abusive, but because my child would have loved it.

My son bit into his first jalapeño pepper when he was just eight months old.

My husband and I were having dinner at the coffee table in our tiny first house, when our baby boy crawled over, pulled himself up to the table, grabbed a bit of raw jalapeño and popped it into his mouth. We freaked out. We got ready to call 911 while watching closely for a reaction. He shuddered for a few moments. Then he reached for another pepper, which of course, we grabbed before he ate it. No tears, no hives, no stomach effects, just a desire for more hot pepper.

Ever since, his fondness for all things spicy has only deepened. To this day, he goes into regular withdrawal living 100 miles rom the nearest Chipotle.

It never occurred to me to wash his mouth out with anything, let alone hot sauce. No, Dave’s Insanity triple-X habanero would be a reward. For my boy, punishment would be a mouthful of dark chocolate. No kidding.

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Burrito therapy

Yesterday was fun, reading everyone’s comments about the flavors of yore. Thanks for playing along.

I also appreciated the well wishes—online and off—for my sinus infection. I have to say, it’s been quite a miserable week. You’ve convinced me; I’ll try a Neti Pot.

I hadn’t mentioned that my son has been visiting for a few days this week. He too had a sinus and ear infection so, when he arrived, he was feeling as punk as I. We’ve been quite the pair, lying around listlessly, coughing and sniffling. I didn’t cook a single meal for him and we didn’t do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Yesterday, after two days of bland food and forced liquids, he knew what we both needed—Chipotle burritos.

There is no Chipotle within 90 miles of where he lives. We have 19 within a 10-mile radius; 20 when the new one opens in our little town this fall. Chipotle is about his favorite food. So when he’s visiting, he’s there, at least once.

I, on the other hand, never go unless I am with him. I like their food very much, but I find the ordering process a little intimidating. The menu is composed of inside terms and the line moves quickly. The people behind the counter are nice and efficient, but I still feel like a Soup Nazi customer as I bumble my way through all the choices when everyone else seems to have the process down to a science. For this reason, I order the one combo I’ve memorized – the Barbacoa Burrito Bowl, black beans, no rice, corn, lettuce and sour cream. I pass on the salsa because the descriptions are confusing and I am too timid to ask for help. It’s a little like ordering at Starbucks, where I need a glossary.

So usually, my son orders for me. Yesterday he brought back what he thought we needed for what ailed us. Plus a side of the world’s best guacamole and freshly made chips for good measure. He was dead on. Best of all, he saved me a great deal of anxiety.

The Chipotle website is tons of fun, I could hang out there all day. Bravo to their marketing team. It’s a great company with terrific food; there’s even an online order option. I just prefer not to venture into the restaurant alone.

Now on to buy a Neti Pot. Again with the choices.

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Girl power

Thirty-six hours after the concert, I still have an estrogen hangover. Make no mistake, that’s a good thing. 

The night before last, I had primo seats and VIP privileges at the final stop on the Lilith Fair tour, thanks to some well connected friends.

It feels like years since I’ve been to a concert. I was just glad they didn’t confiscate my Tums at the door.

You will recall that Lilith Fair began in the late 1990s and ran three years as an annual concert celebrating women in music.  Founded by Sarah McLachlan in response to concert promoters’ alleged bias against all-women shows, Lilith Fair featured women solo artists and women-led bands. After 10 years, Lilith Fair resumed this summer and culminated its multi-city tour in the Washington area  Tuesday night. Truly, it was music of women, by women and for women. 

I have nothing against male musicians—in fact, I have secret crushes on many of them—but it’s a rare and stirring experience to wallow in the glory of one’s gender on a sultry evening, enjoying a cold beverage under the stars, in the company of terrific people of both genders.

Following a number of smaller acts appearing throughout the afternoon, the main stage kicked off with Sara Bareilles, new to the Fair and white hot these days, who opened with several familiar hits. She was followed by Cat Power, whom  I didn’t know, but are in the very large cyber-basket I carried out of iTunes yesterday.

For me, the treat of the night was getting to hear Martie Maguire and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks, performing as their new group Court Yard Hounds.  They dazzled the audience with their strings (fiddle, mandolin and banjo) and earth-moving vocal harmonies. Best line of the night: “The Dixie Chicks stay at The Ritz. The Court Yard Hounds stay at Motel 6.”

Indigo Girls sprayed a geyser of energy into the pavilion, finishing up with my—and I think everyone’s—favorite singalong, “Closer to Fine.” Then Sarah McLachlan brought it home with a set comprising her classic cry-in-your-chamomile ballads and more upbeat selections from her new record. Whether she’s at the piano, burning up the guitar or demonstrating one of the richest voices in the business today, every one of her songs stirs emotion.

As a student of song lyrics, it struck me at the time how many appealed uniquely to the female spirit. I don’t intend sexism, but I also don’t suspect many men think, let alone sing, “Your love is better than chocolate.” (Maybe “your love is better than a Chipotle double meat burrito with extra guacamole”)

For the finale, Sarah invited all of the preceding acts—and their crews—on stage, where they sang “Because the Night,” written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. It was fitting for the last words of the last song in the last show in what I hope isn’t the last Lilith Fair tour, to be “because the night belongs to us.”

I expect my next hangover will arrive with my iTunes bill.

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Chain-free zone

Good morning and greetings from Boone, North Carolina.

My husband and I are here for our son’s graduation from Appalachian State University.  I just couldn’t let the festivities begin without telling you a little about this charming place, where we’ve been coming a couple of times a year for the past four years.

Not everyone knows about Boone or Appalachian State.  App State entered the national consciousness in 2007 when its then-two-time Division I-AA national championship football team beat the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the season opener.  It was the largest upset in college football history and landed the Mountaineers on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Later in the season, they won the championship for the third year in a row.

Appalachian State sits high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, in what’s known as the Ski Capital of the South.  The student population is about 15,000.  One of the institution’s most famous alumni is Steven J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics.

Boone itself is artsy and bohemian.  It’s surrounded by a number of elite resorts, so there’s a cultural dichotomy that sometimes causes friction on the local political scene.

I think what stands out most about downtown Boone is the absence of chain stores and restaurants.  Up and down King Street, Boone’s main avenue, you’ll find one character-filled small business after another.

On King Street, you’ll find no Gap; just The Jean Pool.  There’s no Abercrombie; there’s the Mast General Store.   I was sad to see that the second-hand store, Love Me Two Times, has closed its doors.  There’s no CVS; just Boone Drug, which still has a lunch counter.  There’s no Panera; it’s Our Daily Bread.  There’s no Hair Cuttery; there’s Split Endz.  No Starbucks, only Higher Grounds and The Beanstalk.  No Chipotle; only Black Cat Burrito. The closest Chili’s is an hour away, which is fine because there’s the The Boone Saloon.   And if are you are looking for a cheap place to stay on King Street, you’ll find no Days Inn; only a nondescript  motel with a sign that reads:  2 people 1 bed $29.

What more can I say?

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