Culture Opinion The Katchup

Burritos Are The Defining Food Item Of Modern Californian Cuisine

In a recent episode of Foodbeast’s podcast, The Katchup, fellow writer Evan Lancaster posed an intriguing question about the latest trend of seemingly every cuisine being put into burrito form:

“I mean, is this just a California thing? I don’t think we see that anywhere else.”

While we do see this burrito trend everywhere, its roots are definitely embedded in California. In fact, if there is one singular food item that could define all of Californian cuisine, it would definitely be the burrito and everything that Californians have done to it to fortify its stance in today’s cuisine.

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Truth be told, the Golden State was one of the first states to introduce burritos to the American people. Nowadays, California has taken that Mexican staple and revolutionized it. It’s no longer just an on-the-go meal found in Mexican restaurants. Everything from sushi to mac and cheese and even Indian food can be found inside of burritos all across California.

This movement began as a testament to the diverse cultures that live in the state. With burritos and Mexican cuisine being one of the core staples of Californian culture, it makes sense that the state’s melting pot of different people began communicating their own cultures through the wrap. The rapid, on-the-go lifestyle of the modern world also gives the burrito a massive market, as it offers convenience and portability for whatever you want to fill it with.

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Evidenced by the resourcefulness of today’s diverse culinary minds, restaurants are crafty with the wrap of choice they use to construct their burritos, which allows them to retain cultural elements both inside and outside of the burrito. Sushi burritos, for example, are typically wrapped in rice paper or seaweed, and Panda Express uses a scallion pancake to wrap up their orange chicken burritos. Think of it as a way to retain cultural identity and keep the concept of the burrito truer to whichever culture has been represented in this vessel.

Sure, it wouldn’t be considered traditional for a restaurant to stuff chicken tikka masala into a burrito, or for Panda Express to take orange chicken and turn it into wrap form. But in California, it’s acceptable because of our openness to fusion cuisine. Roy Choi and his Korean BBQ tacos are a prime example of how we’re willing to take food from one cuisine and mash it up with another. With California having the largest minority population of any state in the US, it’s hard to find the quantity or diversity of fusion restaurants that California has to offer anywhere else in the country.

That’s what makes the burrito, no matter what you stuff into it, a true Californian classic. From the Mexican roots and vibrant Mexican culture here, to the acceptance of fusion, broad ethnic diversity, and on-the-go lifestyle, the burrito was definitely made for the modern Golden State.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate everything that’s Californian than to put it in burrito form.

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Theme Park Food Isn’t All Crap Anymore [The Katchup Podcast]

Theme park food has come a long way from corn dogs and funnel cakes.

Now, it seems like every theme park is coming up with legit but tasty food specific to their content, from poutine flatbreads at Disneyland’s Beauty and the Beast Red Rose Tavern to gigantic Pink Donuts in Universal Studio’s Springfield (a Simpsons-themed area of the park).

In the most recent episode of Foodbeast’s podcast “The Katchup,” Foodbeast Editor-In-Chief Elie Ayrouth brought in Foodbeast’s managing editor Reach Guinto, contributing writer Raphael Madrid, and video producer Michael Priestley to go deep into all of this awesome food you can get at amusement parks.

Following the successful launches of trending content featuring tons of theme park food, including a viral video about the themed eats at Universal Studios, the Foodbeast squad sat down to talk about the experience and what the best food different theme parks had to offer.

Here at Foodbeast, we regularly cover a lot of different treats, and typically get to go and try it ourselves. We’ve definitely had a lot of experiences with the good and bad when it comes to theme park food, and bring all of those to light in this discussion on this week’s episode of our Katchup podcast.

The group also talked about which theme parks have been producing legit and amazing food, as well as which ones are slipping and need to step up their food game.

If you want to know where to go to get the tastiest theme park food to enhance your entertainment experience, make sure to listen.

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Fast Food Chains Have The Safest Food In The Country

If you ask someone what they think about the food at a fast food restaurant, it’s often perceived as dirty, low-quality, and unhealthy. The same can also be said for perception of the fast food restaurants and their health conditions as well.

As consumers, we demand food of high quality and cleanliness, both in terms of clean label and the prevention of food-borne illnesses. The problem is that fast food usually is considered a joke in those terms, especially when food-borne illnesses have occurred in the past at chains like Chipotle, Taco Bell, and Jack In The Box.

Fast food chains aren’t about that anymore, and many have strict manufacturing and food handling practices to ensure the health and safety of their food. McDonald’s, for example, changes their French fry oil at least twice a day to prevent it from binding together and forming unhealthy compounds as well as to preserve flavor.

UPROXX’s Steve Bramucci discovered this trade secret while on a trip in Australia. During Foodbeast’s podcast “The Katchup,” Bramucci recalls a trek he took across the entire continent while running on recycled oil, and how McDonald’s was the best to use because of that.

“It was so hard to get the right oil from the mom & pop shops ‘cause they were refrying their oil over and over and over, which is incredibly dangerous. We finally went to a McDonald’s… it was the cleanest oil I’ve ever seen. They change it out twice a day. It was like liquid gold. We would take 40 gallons of oil from a McDonald’s and store it on our roof. I can tell you, McDonald’s oil is really clean and really golden, so if these big companies can do it, the mom & pop shops need to be able, too.”

This isn’t just the case for McDonald’s and their French fry oil, it’s the case for many other fast food chains as well. Chipotle completely revamped their food safety handling practices following a rough year of food-borne illness outbreaks, and Jack in the Box made major changes to how they cook their food following the infamous E.coli catastrophe they endured in 1993. This outbreak actually caused the federal government to change their ground meat cooking temperature standards to improve consumer health safety.

Mom & pop shops and other small food businesses on the other hand, are much more susceptible to improper food handling and health concerns. Many of the most horrific health code violations on the internet aren’t even from fast food restaurants. They’re from small, local restaurants.

That doesn’t mean those risks and health concerns won’t happen, obviously. But food handling guidelines and practices in fast food restaurants have significantly improved over the years, so these incidences are becoming even more rare in fast food chains across America.

Fast food has much better handling practices and food safety than most mom & pop restaurants. So if you’re paranoid about getting food poisoning when you go out to eat, just order some fast food. It’s way less likely that you’ll get sick there.

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Subway’s ‘Fake Chicken’ News Is Good For Fast Food [The Katchup Podcast]

Just when Subway was seemingly done with on major controversy, another one seems to hit them out of nowhere.

For those of you that missed out on the news, a Canadian investigative show found that only 50% of the DNA in Subway Canada’s chicken was… well, chicken. It triggered a wave of news articles that interpreted it as meaning that only half of Subway’s chicken was real chicken (which isn’t true at all).

What does this mean for the franchise, its transparency, and its brand image?

We dive deep into this discussion during this week’s episode of The Katchup, Foodbeast’s podcast that gets as real as possible on the latest food trends and news stories of the past week. Joined by Fast Food Maven Nancy Luna of the Orange County Register and UPROXX Media managing editor Steve Bramucci, Foodbeast Editor-In-Chief Elie Ayrouth and myself tackled the massive controversy regarding Subway’s chicken that rocked the Internet the past week.

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We look into how Subway handled this massive food news incident and compare it to those in the past. The conversation also led us to look at other companies that have had or still have bad reputations, like Chipotle and Jack in the Box following their respective notorious food-borne illness outbreaks, and compare how each chain has handled itself in those situations.

Do these fast food companies and others do a good job at being transparent with their consumers? Do they handle negative press well? Are they heading in the right direction?

We answer those as best as we can in this podcast, so if you want to hear what we think about all this, make sure to listen to this week’s episode.