Time, when you really think about it, makes no sense. Thus, the discovery of this short story by Ernest Hemingway. It describes the protagonist’s meal at the newly opened on-campus Mexican restaurant, Quesada.
It was 1:25 exactly when class ended; I had an hour until my next class and I needed to eat. I was hungry.
My class was in the Education Building and I did not want to eat in the bleak, fluorescent Education cafeteria. I decided to walk down the hill to Bronfman. There was a lot of construction along the way. I wanted to eat at the new Mexican place. It was called Quesada. I had never been.
As I walked into the modern-looking Bronfman cafeteria, I could not believe the line. It stretched to the entrance. I entered this line: this must be worth it.
I looked at my phone. I scrolled through Instagram, and liked a couple photos. I checked my Twitter. I briefly dealt with Facebook. My friend’s snapchats were funny. The line inched forward.
I saw the options for the burritos. Regular, large, and big ass. You could get a big ass burrito. In what place could this ever be appetizing? I did not want to go to the counter and ask for a ‘big ass’ burrito. The sound of it hurt.
I decided I wanted a large. I looked at the options for meat. Steak. Yes, that would be good. I asked for a large steak burrito. With white rice and black beans.
Then I saw the steak. This steak did not look natural. It did not appear to be from any cow I had ever known. It was grey. It looked as if it were created by some steak-substitute sludge. Still I decided to try it.
I looked at the counter. I could tell that this restaurant was trying to be like Chipotle. But it was as if these people saw Chipotle and wanted nothing to do with food quality. It was probably more profitable that way.
The number of topping choices was almost overwhelming. I did not want to slow down the people behind me. I got the guacamole for 75 cents extra. I even got the corn. I do not like corn that much, but I didn’t want to delay any longer.
They heated the whole burrito on another press, and then handed it over to me. I wanted it to go. I wanted to battle this burrito in private. I paid, and it seemed like a reasonable cost.
I went to the SSMU lounge. I saw a friend there. She said, “I haven’t had Quesada yet. I don’t like burritos. They’re like a food-tube of stuff.”
I was initially shocked. I like burritos. As I unwrapped this burrito, though, it was a food-tube. But I would finish this burrito. I took the first bite. At most I could say: it was a burrito, with beans, and rice, and cilantro, and onion, and corn. But there was no distinguishing flavour. It was all mush.
I got to halfway through the burrito. It had begun to drip something that could not be identified. But I would not be defeated. A man can be destroyed but not defeated. [Ed’s Note: Possibly written before The Old Man and The Sea].
Each bite was a battle. The meat was grey and slimy, barely tasting of anything. Though I knew I must beat this. “I will eat you, burrito,” I said to the last fourth of it. “I will say I have eaten Quesada.” I looked at my phone – 2:10 p.m.. “Burrito,” I said, “Burrito, you are going to be eaten anyway. Do you have to make me late for class too?”
I got to that part of the burrito where it has been destroyed from two sides. I thought of the great Joey Chestnut, who ate all those hot dogs. I must be worthy of the great Chestnut, who could eat all those hot dogs despite his pain. I tipped it over and took the last couple of bites, hoping that I would not have the drippings of this burrito on me. I thought the great Chestnut must be proud of me today.
I finished. I wrapped up my trash, careful to corral all the juices, and threw out my bag. I started to walk back toward Education. I was nearly out of breath by the time I arrived. It was 2:32 p.m.. I found a seat.
Yes, I conquered that burrito. But all through class, and for the rest of the day, I was uncomfortable, my stomach rumbled. In my life I was never to feel at ease again.