Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

October 8, 2012



This essay, The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line, is the sixth in an octology about my son Joshua:
  1. Joshua Is Doing Nothing
  2. Two Human Beings One Heart
  3. You Can't Hold On To A Wriggling Puppy
  4. Joshua Nelson Mongezi  Platt
  5. Source Of Action
  6. The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line
  7. Return To The Creek
  8. The Magical Breakfast Burrito Assembly Line II
in that order.

I am indebted to my son Joshua Nelson Platt who inspired this conversation.




When my children were young, I read with them. Pretty soon I realized it really didn't matter what  I read with them ... as long as I read with them.

Then when they were older and I played more than mere kindergarten games  with them, I realized it really didn't matter either what games I played with them ... as long as I played with them.

Children are natural players. But as they grow older, they will learn from the world (Man! ... they ... will ... learn  ...) life isn't about playing: it's about accumulating and surviving. When I, a successful adult and their parent, play with them, I'm demonstrating in life, play is also a valid raison d'etre  along with surviving. By playing with them I show them play is a viable option for life. They find out from me that while surviving is essential in the day to day business of stayin' alive, it's who we really are as human beings which comes forth as play.

It's more than that actually. It's in playing with my children, who we really are as relationship  comes forth. Demonstrating who we really are as relationship comes forth (ie can viably  come forth) as play, is a key to successful parenting - not necessarily the same brand of parenting as going through the biological motions.

My adult son Joshua and I play together. Play is an essential expression of our relationship. I follow two of his passions: gardening and cooking. One morning he came over to my Cowboy Cottage in California's wine country  where I live, with a couple of frozen burritos which he proceeded to nuke  in the microwave oven. Sitting outside on patio chairs looking over the cattle pasture, we ate them for breakfast. They were delicious. "Where did you buy them?" I asked him. "I didn't buy them" he said, "I made them myself.".

"These are amazing" I thought. The thought "He  is amazing ..." soon followed. So I asked him "Hey, Josh! What if we made a project of it, go to the Safeway  together and shop for ingredients, then come back here and make up about twenty breakfast burritos like these to freeze for whenever we want a snack?".

Joshua thought it was a great  idea. He jumped up to get a pencil and paper to make a shopping list. He's very thorough like that. I like it that he makes lists. "We'll need eggs," he said, writing it down, "tortillas, and what meat do you like, Dad?". "Sausage" I said. "And what vegetables?". "How about brussel sprouts, chives, and tomatoes?". "OK brussel sprouts, chives, and tomatoes. We'll need some butter for the pan, cheese, wax paper to wrap them in once they're cooked, and some ziplock  plastic bags to put them in so they don't get freezer burn.". Then, list in hand, we drove down to the store. On the way I said "I love doing this with you Josh.". He said "I love doing this with you too, Dad.".

I'm deftly piloting the shopping cart up and down the aisles. He's carefully choosing the items we need from the shelves. He doesn't only price compare. He reads the labels as well, eschewing  those, for example, with too much trans fats  and too much sodium, for those with less. He carefully examines each item (like an artist examines a brush or a crayon) before putting it in the shopping cart, or returning it neatly to the shelf. I watch him closely (unbeknownst to him) as he does this. I'm so proud of him, so proud of my son's self-taught diligence. We bag our own purchases at the check-out counter (paper not plastic), load everything into the trunk of my Toyota Yaris, then set out back to the Cowboy Cottage, talking animatedly along the way about how to proceed next, planning ahead.

Our first task is to chop the brussel sprouts, chives, and tomatoes on a cutting board. He chops while I find a bowl, a large bowl - remember we're making about twenty burritos. He shovels the chopped vegetables into the bowl with the flat of the big chopping knife he's using, then slices the sausage into slightly smaller than bite size bits. I watch him, the master at work. I get another bowl for the sausage bits, then start grating cheese while he deftly splits eggs with one hand into another bowl. We're not yet sure whether the egg shells should be saved for compost, so we set them aside along with all the vegetable offcuts - just in case.

I wash and put away all the kitchen equipment and utensils he's used so far. I want him to have a clear space in which he can work. The place is now immaculate. On the kitchen counter there's a bowl of vegetable pieces, another bowl of sausage bits, a pile of grated cheese on the cutting board, and the bowl with the now slightly beaten eggs. He's got the tortillas in the oven on low heat so they become soft and flexible. I'm his sous chef, a role I thoroughly enjoy.

The pans I have are too small to cook the entire mix all at once, so we get some dessert plates and bowls from the cabinet. We divide the vegetable pieces into four plates, the sausage bits into four plates, the grated cheese into four piles on the cutting board, and the beaten eggs into four bowls. Now we're ready to start cooking - in four sessions.

In one pan on the stove he sautés one plate of sausage bits half way. Then he adds one plate of vegetable pieces and sautés them all together. In the other pan using a wooden spoon, he scrambles one bowl of beaten eggs, then blends in the sausage and vegetable mix and one pile of grated cheese. He lets it all simmer for a moment, then sets it aside in a bowl. When he's cooked all four portions of all ingredients, we have one large blue bowl full of the cooked burrito contents. The sous chef washes, dries, and puts away all other no longer used equipment and cooking utensils.

Laying out the twenty now warm tortillas from the oven on every inch of counter space we can find, he piles an equal amount of the burrito contents onto each tortilla with a ladling spoon, then rolls and folds the tortillas around it. He carefully wraps each burrito in a sheet of wax paper (which I tore off along the box's serrated edge while he was piling the burrito contents onto the tortillas). We place two wrapped burritos into each ziplock bag.

I wash and dry the large blue bowl and the ladling spoon, then put them away and clean the stove top. There's now nothing at all  left in the sink or on the kitchen counter except for the ten ziplock bags containing two of Joshua's breakfast burritos each. The place is immaculate, impeccable. We put the ten ziplock bags into the refrigerator, close the door, then whoop with delight and high five  each other.

Cook with your children. It really doesn't matter what  you cook with them ... as long as you cook with them.



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