Burrito Half Life And Causes Of Error
There's been a whirlwind of
hate mail peer review regarding the recent burrito taste test organized by The Boston Globe.
"I am shocked and also offended, perhaps next time you should include a real burrito expert, as in myself."Despite hostile tones, I share a passion with you, fellow burrito analysts. I hear your unrest. And I understand. No taste test is perfect, and we must consider the flaws of the experimental design.
"I am sick and tired of you blasting Boca Grande. You obviously do not have very discerning taste buds."
"No Felipe's? Fail."
#1: Transportation, Preservation, and Heat Loss
#2: Evaporation Catalysts
Moisture is critical to tortilla texture. Some burritos were incised widthwise to prepare for photography, lasting approximately four minutes. Prolonged exposure to air accelerated the rate of evaporation prior to tasting. Tortillas were drier than usual.
#3: Burrito Half Life and Quality Decay
Anecdotal estimates place optimal consumption within seven minutes of construction. To supplement scarce scientific documentation on burrito decay, our analyst team composed the following estimate:
Because of varying purchase times to account for travel, freshness was unequal.
#4: Configuration as an Uncontrolled Variable
Efforts were made to ensure consistent burrito specifications as follows: steak, pinto beans, rice, cheese, and salsa. However, the Boca Grande specimen had no salsa, and varying hot sauce application techniques made controlling for spice difficult. It is impossible to configure burritos identically.
#5: Untested Vendors
The taste test was limited to five burritos; numerous local taquerias were stricken from participation.
#6: Natural Variance and Small Sample Size
Hand made burritos are subject to unavoidable inconsistency. When comparing the means of two samples with high variance, large sample sizes are required to warrant conclusions. Each tester sampled only one burrito from each establishment.
#7: Absent Rating Criteria
Burrito Blog's rating system incorporates cleanliness, presentation, service, and how I feel four hours later. The nature of the blind taste test at a neutral location invalidated the first three of these measurements. Mixed consumption and immediate judging eliminated the most important rating criteria: the aftermath.
Despite extensive causes of error, we applaud The Boston Globe in their scientific quest. Detracting elements were entirely beyond their control.
As with all experiments, repetition is required. So, dear readers, go out and eat for yourself.
The Globe's Blind Burrito Taste Test
The kind folks at The Boston Globe were nice enough to buy ten burritos for the tasting pleasure of John, Mike, Anthony, and myself. Anthony couldn't make it by serving time. He hasn't been the same since.
Fanueil Hall's Quincy Market was chosen by The Globe as a neutral testing location. The nearly identically configured, unidentified burritos were sampled in the following order:
- Anna's Taqueria from Beacon Street in Brookline
- Qdoba from Coolidge Corner in Brookline
- Boloco from Water Street Downtown
- Boca Grande from Kenmore Square
- Chipotle from Cleveland Circle
Identifying the burrito vendors was more difficult than expected. It's been a long time since I've been to Boloco, and even longer since Chipotle and Qdoba. I was unprepared.
I swapped Chipotle for Qdoba - unforgivable to devotees of either. John identified all five correctly.
Mike and John both gave the favorite nod to Boloco's effort. I stuck with Anna's. Causes of error were extensive and will be explored in an upcoming post. Stay tuned for analysis.
Boston Magazine: Burrito Blog Burnout
All press is good press, so they say. In a story on the influx of Burrito locations in the neighborhood, Boston Magazine wonders if the town can take it, adding:
Is a reckoning upon us? ...Cambridge’s Jonah Feld, who runs the website Burrito Blog, is showing signs of burnout.Ha! Full story here.
I guess I really should get back to posting more. Gotta entertain the Burrito Blog faithful. Time to recall some inspiration!
Burrito Blog Rejected By The NSF
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering...such as mathematics, computer science, economics and the social sciencesPlus they give funding to Nova. So what on earth would the NSF want with Burrito Blog? Well, nothing, in the end. But at first, they were interested in some footage of eating contests. From the NSF:
The footage will be used as part of an educational video that will be shown in museums and possibly appear on NSF's website as well. Let us know if you have footage and are interested in letting NSF use it for our video project.I signed and faxed the forms granting permission to use Burrito Blog's first speed eating contest. It's all yours, NSF. Warn the people of the dangers of amateur speed eating. The rejection:
After consulting with my colleagues we have decided to go with other footage to illustrate the concept for the project.Perhaps our contest was not dangerous enough. Bummer. Keep up the great work with Nova.
Boston Globe Ratifies Burrito Contest
Burrito Blog made an appearance in The Boston Globe this weekend where they published the results of the Burrito Blog Speed Eating Contest #1. They also reported, as I had said, that there will be another speed eating contest.
Well, I didn't really mean it.
But I suppose it has to happen now. I cower before that big media pressure. Give it a year, and we'll hold another contest and make a big deal about it.
MSNBC Snubs Burrito Blog
It is also my birthday.
On Cinco de Mayo, MSNBC decided to feature Burrito Blog, bringing joy and amusement to their viewers and my mother.
That joy was cut short in the studio, mere moments before airing, when a Mr. Patrick Kennedy announced he would seek substance abuse treatment. This is breaking news? Burrito Blog was bumped from the Cinco de Mayo broadcast.
It's ok, MSNBC, you are still my favorite. My mom hates you though.
Interview On FoodCandy
FoodCandy just posted an interview with yours truly. My favorite part:
world famous Burrito BlogYou know it.
Burrito Blog On The Washington Post
It seems no local street corner is safe from "Chipotle creep," a phenomenon that has made the burrito chain almost Starbuckian in its ubiquity. But if you'd prefer to get your carb-and-cheese fix from Mom and Pop instead of the Man, don't despair. There are plenty of indie spots in the area serving up fresh, authentic and downright innovative burritos.They picked out these places in and around DC which I'll have to check out soon:
Just ask Jonah Feld, who runs Santa Monica-based Burritoblog.com, a compendium of his and his pals' "burrito eating adventures" across the country. Feld went to George Washington University (he loved the Well Dressed Burrito, below) and recommends sussing out local joints in your neighborhood and beyond. Burrito hunting "is a great way to explore," he says. Plus, smaller eateries often offer unusual fillings that you won't find in the corporate chains. (Goat, anyone?) "There are so many varieties, you can have a different burrito every day," Feld says.
- The Burrito Joynt, 6113 Franconia Rd, Alexandria
- Casa Blanca, 1014 Vermont Ave NW
- El Charrito Caminante, 2710A N Washington Blvd, Arlington
- La Sirenita Restaurant, 4911 Edmonston Rd, Hyattsville
- The Well Dressed Burrito, 1120 19th St NW
The Phantom Reruns, Episode IV
See the clip here.
As Seen On TV
Check out my appearance on The Phantom Gourmet - finally made available with the help of Andrew and Sterling.
I've enabled comments on this entry so you can share your thoughts on how Burrito Blog is saving television.
If you can't see the clip or want the full size, try here.
AOL Loves Burrito Blog
Burrito Blog was featured on AOL, today, August 31st, 2005.
Well, that's that. Lifetime achievement. While I could retire, Burrito Blog will press on, for the love of the game.
Burrito Blog & Nielsen Ratings
If your tv set is in better shape than mine, check it out.
I Hit The Airwaves
So, if you still own one of those trash boxes formerly known as television, check out the show. It's one of the few that actually encourages you to get off the couch and do something.
From Broadband To Broadcast
Details to follow.
Boston Sunday Globe
Even if you look like a big, full color dummy in Sunday edition of The Boston Globe, they say all press is good press, right?
I returned home to discover my roommates hung that hilarious photo on the fridge. They put it up at work, too.
Click on an image for the full size.
Paparazzi Interrupts Super Boiled Chicken
11:36 AM: I order a super boiled chicken burrito with no beans, no cheese, and extra hot sauce.
11:38 AM: I sit down to eat.
11:40 AM: The Paparazzi arrives, intimidates me with a large lens.
11:42 AM - 11:55 AM: I hurriedly eat my burrito, avoiding swarming, screaming fans.
It's all because of my fame. Curse this celebrity business.
I Become Famous
Click on the image for a readable size.
So, does my fame win me free burritos? No.
The Mexican Restaurant Directory
It all started with a plug from Boston.com's latest and greatest section this week. This came as a complete surprise to me. Ellen, who works with me, noticed it. Following verification, I went nuts.
As someone who frequents Anna's Taqueria three to five times a week, The Burrito Blog really hit home. Blogger Jonah Feld is "chronicling [his] life through a series of burrito eating adventures," and so far it seems to be a really tasty journey. (Note to Jonah: Your "Buy Me Lunch" link is broken.)
Well first let me say that the link works again. So now
hundreds of you out there Mom, you can buy me lunch through PayPal.
Second, it has come to my attention that there are a great many of your favorite restaurants that are beyond my geographic reach.
As a result, I have created the National Mexican Restaurant Directory. The directory is organized by state but allows multi state chains. Please add your favorite restaurant, and share your knowledge with the tortilla loving world. It's easy - there's no registration required.
I made the directory. You have to populate it.