Meal of the day:
That’s a brown rice burrito bowl with pinto beans, corn salsa, hot salsa and chicken, plus a bag of chips and a soda. That was lunch today. It is lunch a lot of days. And dinner a lot of days. And some days, it is lunch and dinner.
Yes, I heart Chipotle. I heart Chipotle enough that I sometimes eat it twice in one day. Enough that they know my face and my order at the Chipotle by where I work. Enough that I don’t get sick of it.
The vast, vast majority of the time, I order the meal outlined above. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I varied from that meal. It is the perfect Chipotle meal. Hearty and delicious. I’ve been like that forever…I used to go to Portillos and get the same meal (jumbo hot dog, ketchup/mustard/easy onion, large fry, large coke) every time. I like having a routine. In some ways, my whole life has prepared me for being a celiac. I’m ok with food monotony, when I like the food. I never get burned out of the same meal, when it’s good.
And Chipotle is good. Reliably good. And if you avoid the cheese, sour cream and burrito wraps, it is reliably gluten and dairy free–which is important for me. Moreover, I like the company ethos. I like their commercials:
I like their food. I like their people. I really like the song in the video. I like their job applications. I like their witty signs in the stores. I like their commitment to food safety. I like their chips. I like the design aesthetic of the restaurant.
But what I really, really like is simple. It doesn’t make me sick. It is reliable, no-stress eating. I can go there and eat without having to think, to analyze, to examine. I can eat there and trust that their food is safe–that it is what it says it is. It makes what is increasingly a complicated issue quite charmingly simple–I can eat their food. And instead of being the oddball who orders a complicated order without gluten or dairy (oh, and please don’t use any butter…and no cheese on my rice…and do you cook your chicken in oil or in a dairy solution…and is that meat packaged in a gluten solution…ad nauseum), I can just order my bowl as outlined above. I can fit in. Even with my dietary quirks, I can be normal at Chipotle.
Or at the very least, I can look normal.
Kind of weird that in my early 30s, I’m in love with a restaurant because it doesn’t poison me.
I’m finding more and more that one of the biggest challenges of dealing with celiac’s disease isn’t simply finding food that my body is comfortable with…it’s finding ways of ordering food that I’m comfortable with. There are times when I’m sitting with a group about to order at a restaurant, and I consciously calculate whether it would be worse to go through a drawn-out explanation of my order, or to just get glutened and avoid the discussion. Chipotle saves me that dilemma. Frankly, I know very little about their corporate ethos beyond what they advertise. But I like them. A lot.
One final Chipotle story…following this weekend’s Whistlering Dixie trip, the Extreme ™ and I had dinner at Chipotle in Arlington Heights on our way back from the airport. Unwittingly, he left his wallet (with credit cards and vacation cash in it) at the Chipotle. We didn’t realize until we were 30 minutes down the road. We called the store, they found it, and they held it. That’s exactly what they should have done–I know. And when we got to the store, the cash was still there, the cards were unmolested, and the manager and workers wouldn’t take any money. The manager was a young guy–my age or younger. He could have pocketed the cash and said it was like that when he found it. We would have been none the wiser. But he didn’t–he was honest, and fair, and compassionate. What did he ask for in return? He said if we had a chance, we should give the store a good review. So, manager from the Arlington Heights Chipotle, here’s a good review for you–you’re a good dude, and I appreciate it.
And Chipotle, I heart you.