Friday, November 5, 2010

The Big Burrito

july4'10tonov3'10 408Mexico is celebrating both its Centennial and its Bicentennial this year: It’s been 100 years since the Revolution that ended with the creation of modern Mexico, and 200 years since its independence from Spain was declared.  There are festivities all year long throughout the country.  In La Paz’s attempt at getting creative in its contribution to the festivities, last night it attempted to break the Guinness Book of World Record for the largest burrito.  The logistical planning began over a year ago and culminated in a 3 km (nearly 2 mile) continuous, unbroken, LOOOOOOOONG fish burrito, also known as Machaca de Pescado.  The statistics read as follows:

Sixty restaurants participating, 3,000 people assembling and cooking, 1.75 tons of green peppers, 1.75 tons of white onions, 500 kilos of prepared beans, 3 tons of tuna and a tortilla 3 km long running the length of the malecon (or boardwalk) from Marina de la Paz to Marina Palmira. july4'10tonov3'10 400 All this under the supervision of Guiness Book’s Latin American Rep Ralph Hannah, originally from the UK but now living in Asunción, Paraguay.  Apparently, there are over 50,000 applications a year submitted to Guiness, and only 800 are chosen.  Those lucky few must foot the 6000 British pounds it costs to cover the judge’s salary, airfare and expenses (thank you to Baja California Sur, the state government, for picking this part up).  Talk about a cool job.

july4'10tonov3'10 389july4'10tonov3'10 402When Maseca, a major corn flour producer in Mexico, heard about the event, they donated all the flour needed and built a special machine to make the single piece tortilla.  We watched it being rolled out, millimeter by millimeter, beginning at 6 a.m. on the day of the july4'10tonov3'10 394event.  It was quite a site:  The procession was led by a pick up truck with a huge generator being doused regularly with loads of water to keep it cool – if it conked out, the tortilla would no longer be in a continuous piece, and *poof*… the world record would be lost.  Next came july4'10tonov3'10 401the truck bearing the tortilla machine which cooked and rolled the dough simultaneously; a crew filling the machine with a constant supply of tortilla dough; a guy checking to make sure the roll of tin foil kept coming underneath, and the plastic wrap on top of, the rolled dough;  a crew of eight (four on either side) catching the tortilla as it came out; another large crew placing the tables to follow the truck so that the tortilla had something to sit on; and a guy wearing an oven mitt guiding the truck as to when it  should stop and when it should go.  The truck was surrounded by crowds, including the media crew and of course the young Mr. Hannah, smiling occasionally for photo ops.  I wish I knew how many tables were used, but I do know that several of the participating restaurants had to close down for the day.

july4'10tonov3'10 420We were told that the burrito would be assembled sometime between 5 and 7 p.m. after the tortilla was rolled and the ingredients cooked.  In true Mexican style, at 7:15 p.m., the assembling began.  The 3000 or so restaurant workers stood arms length apart, and began first with a layer of beans, and july4'10tonov3'10 427then the Machaca de Pescado.  Ready, set, roll.  And then each restaurant, armed with only one ‘dull’ knife, began cutting the 27,000 pieces of burrito to be offered to the crowd.  This was excruciating to watch.  In any case, the crowd, which was at least eight people deep, cheered. It was amazing to see how orderly everything proceeded.   

july4'10tonov3'10 428This all changed when it became clear that after all that waiting, the time to eat was upon us.  The crowd pushed closer and closer to the table, and at the sign, within a split second (I kid you not), it was all gone.  Even the unopened bottles of hot sauce and the anti-bacterial gel bottles were gone.  Not a thing remained on the table.  For five of us there, we were lucky, as we got 3 pieces to share.   Not bad for a mass produced meal and a chance to participate in the making of history.

Danielle, Harrison and Leo Brodeur, our friend from Chat de Mer
Danielle, Harrison & our friend Leo (s/v Chat de Mer) enjoying the long-awaited taste.

-Barb in La Paz


  1. Nice job covering this story! Wish we had been with you, but we are here in PE and the bottom gets scrubbed today and new paint. Should be in the water by Monday or Tuesday. Then we'll be on our way to La paz. Welcome back to Michael:)

  2. Yep, it made the news... nice coverage -

  3. How did it taste - was it worth the wait?
    Must have been awesome to watch!