Aziz Ansari, Paulo Coelho, Julia Alvarez Now on Chipotle Cups and Bags (Exclusive)
Eight months after author Jonathan Safran Foer turned his mid-burrito boredom into a series of stories for Chipotle cups and to-go bags (by the likes of himself, Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, and George Saunders), he’s at it again.
The fast-casual burrito chain on Tuesday announced a new slate of authors for its beverage cups and packaging. Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of Butterflies), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) are among the new additions. Foer curated the mix, which also includes Aziz Ansari and Walter Isaacson. VF Daily is exclusively announcing the news, and is pleased to share stories some of the authors below.
“When I received Jonathan Safran Foer’s invitation, he mentioned that as many as 800,000 people a day might read Cultivating Thought,” Alvarez said in materials provided by Chipotle. “I was blown away! I love this democratization and liberation of literature from the gated communities of those who already have access to literature and an inclination to seek it out. I love the idea of taking Toni Morrison or George Saunders or Jonathan Safran Foer out of the classrooms, down from the bookshelves, out of ‘devices,’ and putting their two minutes of wisdom or whimsy in front of people, people of all ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, instead of the usual ‘reader’ types and intellectuals.”
Alvarez also said she’s pleased to add a Latina voice to the series, an omission that attracted some criticism when Chipotle announced its first batch of authors in May of last year. “I thought it was important as a Latina to add my voice to this series,” she said. “So it’s not just our food being served at Chipotle, but also our arts which we all vitally need to nourish the spirit and open wide the heart.” Alvarez’s story, “Two-Minute Spanglish con Mami,” focuses on the immigrant experience, especially as it pertains to what Alvarez described as “the biggest, hugest challenge I faced when I came to this country: learning English.”
“I love the idea of unexpected stories in unexpected places,” Burroughs said. “I’m working on a complicated memoir at the moment so writing a miniature memoir for the back of a cup was highly appealing.”
Coelho added that he hopes the cups and packaging will make “all of us to stop for one minute of our busy lives and read something special.”
“As a writer, I think we all should find our daily spot to stop and meet our thoughts,” he added.
Kingsolver, who revealed that she has “been known to pull out my reader even during a long red light,” said she dreads being caught without reading material. (VF Daily does not endorse the idea of clicking through a novel at a red light.) “Naturally, I’m eager to help anyone who might be caught dining without food for thought,” Kingsolver said.
Stories by Alvarez, Burroughs, and Kingsolver are available below.
__“Two-Minute Spanglish con Mami”
by Julia Alvarez__
When we landed in the U.S.A., Mami told me to learn my English.
“Pero, Mami—” I whined.
“In English! ” she reminded me.
“O.K., Mom,” I said smartly.
“Don’t be fresh!” she scolded. “My name is not ‘Mom’!”
It was the same at school. Sister Mary Joseph reprimanded me if she overheard me speaking Spanish to my sisters. “Girls,” she scolded in a calm voice with a calm face. She didn’t look upset. When Mami was enojada, her face was a tangle of furious lines, her hands flew up, ready to slap.
When I tried speaking English, the school bullies taunted me. “Spic! Spic!” I ran home crying to Mami, who knew the most English in our family.
“They are telling you to speak! Speak! Learn to speak in English!”
I mangled the words. I spoke with an accent.
I asked Mami’s help. “How do I say empalagar en ingles?”
Mami said there wasn’t really an English word for when I ate too many sweets and got that sick, cloying, I’m- going-to-throw-up feeling.
Mami said there was no word, estrenar, in English for the first time I wore my new, store-bought party dress.
When my Bronx tías hung around the table after Sunday dinner, telling stories, Mami said there was no sobremesa to describe those hours in English.
“I miss them, Mami.” All those words I had to leave behind. Also, words that in English didn’t carry the same feeling. Like when you banged a finger, instead of crying “¡Ay!” you said, “Oh.” Or “That’s enough,” instead of “¡Ya!” And how to get along without -itos attached to the ends of words, making the world safer, more affectionately kid-sized?
“Ya!” Mami said, weary with my complaints. “You miss those words? Bring them into English!” And I did as she said, at last.
by Augusten Borroughs__
The grass was sawdust, stained green and sold in plastic bags by the pound. I never figured out what the bushes and shrubs were made of, because even up close they looked like the real thing. The pine trees were also fairly convincing, even though the tallest was under four inches. Several roads meandered through the town, all of them created with the same gritty gray paint that took forever to dry. The town itself had no name, and was located on an abandoned door in my basement, next to the pool table my mother used for stacking laundry.
My own home occupied nearly half the door; the half with all the grass and trees. It included several cars and a personal train station. A white plastic fence surrounded my land, with two tiny pay phone booths, repainted white, as guard stations at the foot of my driveway.
The other residents lived in featureless brown plastic houses crammed together across the street from a gas station, a barbershop, and a shoebox labeled “Mall.” My mother leaned over my ghetto and frowned. “It would be horribly depressing to live here.” I rolled my eyes. “That’s why I live on the other side and have security people.”
“You mean this whole section belongs to you?” She waved her hand over my estate, dripping cigarette ash onto my lawn. “It looks like a psychiatric hospital in Vermont.”
“I’m the town celebrity,” I explained. “I own the TV station and host the game show.” My mother crushed her cigarette out in the saucer that was going to be my backyard pool. “Well, if this was a real town, I can tell you that there would be riots.”
“Which is why I need twelve dollars,” I told her. “I have to buy three police cruisers.”
by Aziz Ansari__
Why do we always want the best? I had to get a toothbrush the other day. Before I left my house, I searched “best toothbrush.” It seemed like the sensible thing to do.
As I typed in the searchbox, the auto-fill completed the thought immediately. I wasn’t alone in my toothbrush purchase insecurity. A flurry of articles came up with conflicting opinions and, for a moment, I felt stupid.
Every toothbrush I bought on a hunch has been fine. I’ve never been disappointed in a toothbrush. Why waste my time trying to find the best? Have you ever run into someone with no teeth and asked, “What happened?”
And they replied, “Bought the wrong toothbrush. Should have done more research.” Then again, I do use a toothbrush quite a bit. If you can get the best, why not?
I mentioned the dilemma to a friend. She said her dentist had given her a great toothbrush called Timbul. She claimed it was “amazing” and it “changed the game.”
A game-changing toothbrush!
I went on Amazon and found it. There were 192 reviews.
First review. 5 stars. “Great brushes.” From a guy delightfully named, Skip Smiley.
Could I trust him? I clicked to see his other reviews.
I soon began to question Mr. Smiley’s integrity. Dude was giving 5 stars to everything:
A diving snorkel: “Love it.”
The book, I, Alex Cross: “Great book.”
An ink cartridge: “Just fine.”
“Just fine” but still five stars? Huh? More research had to be done.
But then I thought about Skip Smiley. Maybe he figured it out. Maybe you just make confident decisions and feel great about them. Did Skip fret about which diving snorkel to buy? Doubtful. Instead of stressing out about other options and possibilities, he was swimming with his snorkel, making the best of life.
I decided to buy the toothbrush. And you know what?
It’s a great toothbrush.
by Paulo Coelho__
A legend tells of a man who used to carry water every day to his village, using two large pitchers tied on either end of a piece of wood, which he placed across his shoulders.
One of the pitchers was older than the other and was full of small cracks; every time the man came back along the path to his house, half of the water was lost. For two years, the man made the same journey. The younger pitcher was always very proud of the way it did its work and was sure that it was up to the task for which it had been created, while the other pitcher was mortally ashamed that it could carry out only half its task, even though it knew that the cracks were the result of long years of work.
So ashamed was the old pitcher that, one day, while the man was preparing to fill it up with water from the well, it decided to speak to him.
“I wish to apologize because, due to my age, you only manage to take home half the water you fill me with, and thus quench only half the thirst awaiting you in your house.”
The man smiled and said: “When we go back, be sure to take a careful look at the path.” The pitcher did as the man asked and noticed many flowers and plants growing along one side of the path.
“Do you see how much more beautiful nature is on your side of the road?” the man remarked. “I knew you had cracks, but I decided to take advantage of them. I sowed vegetables and flowers there, and you always watered them. I’ve picked dozens of roses to decorate my house, and my children have had lettuce, cabbage and onions to eat. If you were not the way you are, I could never have done this. We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities, and these can always be turned to good advantage.”
__“Two-Minute Cheer for the Home Team”
by Barbara Kingsolver__
The ancient human social construct that once was common in this land was called community. We lived among our villagers, depending on them for what we needed. If we had a problem, we did not discuss it over the phone with someone in Mumbai. We went to a neighbor. We acquired food from farmers. We listened to music in groups, in churches or on front porches. We danced. We participated. Even when there was no money in it. Community is our native state. You play hardest for a hometown crowd. You become your best self. You know joy. This is not a guess, there is evidence. The scholars who study social well-being can put it on charts and graphs. In the last 30 years our material wealth has increased in this country, but our self-described happiness has steadily declined. Elsewhere, the people who consider themselves very happy are not in the very poorest nations, as you might guess, nor in the very richest. The winners are Mexico, Ireland, Puerto Rico, the kinds of places we identify with extended family, noisy villages, a lot of dancing. The happiest people are the ones with the most community.