Saturday 21 April 2018

Refuel: Boojum * * * *

Millennium Walkway, D1. Telephone: 01 8729499

Aingeala Flannery

Friday afternoons are Ui Rathaile's. It is, he says, the best time to be in the city. People are shaking off the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesdayness of their lives in anticipation of the weekend. They are free. I want to throw my lot in with the liberated, so even if I am tied up (I mean, "tied down") with work, I feign emancipation and surrender my Friday afternoons to Ui Rathaile and wherever his mood may take us.

The first Friday, he asked to meet me on Lemon Street. Just to see if I could find it. The week after, it was the seafront in Bray. He got on the train two stops after me, sat down in the carriage and pretended not to see me. At Bray station, I was corralled by a slow-moving contingent of Spanish teenagers, whose noisy, confused scramble for tickets at the turnstile gave Ui Rathaile a 10-minute head start.

When I finally got to the promenade, he was sitting on the sea wall, licking a 99. I asked him why he didn't talk to me on the train.

Because, he said, I hadn't met you yet.

And so it goes with Ui Rathaile and his Friday afternoons. Last week's invitation came by text: "Is the lady free to lunch?" Before I had time to fire off a reply he followed up with: "Halfway across the Millennium Bridge. 2pm." At 1.59pm I am walking over the bridge, when I spot Ui Rathaile seven or eight paces ahead of me and I realise he had intended for me to approach from the opposite side of the river. I have denied him the graceful serendipity of a face-to-face encounter. He is disappointed by my clumsiness, which wounds me deeply.

It's impossible to eat when you have a lovesick heart. Because the failure was not on his part, Ui Rathaile recovers quickly, and is overcome with a teenage hunger when we arrive at Boojum. He wants tortilla chips with double guacamole. He wants Corona with a wedge of lime. The lightness of his humour is oppressing me, so I revolt and do the unthinkable with his Friday afternoon. I decide that I am through with love. This is work.

It was an easy enough transition, probably because I like burritos. Who doesn't? But a good burrito is hard to find in this town -- despite a rash of newly opened taquerias. Unfortunately, every burrito I've tried has been too skimpy, afraid of its own fatness, too ashamed to squelch and bulge and drip when you sink your teeth into it.

Boojum's burritos, on the other hand, are proud to shake their big, fat, picante asses at the competition.

They make it so easy, by helping you to build your burrito in three steps: choose your base, your filling and your salsa. The classic burrito comes with beans, rice, meat, salsa and sour cream. Another burrito is stuffed fajita-style with fried peppers and onions. Corn taco shells are packed with sour cream, shredded lettuce and cheese.

Or for those with carbophobic, North Californian tendencies: a tortilla-free burrito bowl. And a kick in the arse.

My spirits restored, I got stuck into Ui Rathaile's corn chips, smeared with coriander and lime-laced guacamole -- roughly mashed avocado -- no pale watery puree, thank heavens. He ordered the biggest, baddest burrito in the house for himself. Shredded beef, slow braised and cut with muddy black beans and grains of rice. The meat was juicy and flavoursome, bolstered with sour cream, and so much cheese and hot smokey salsa that even Ui Rathaile's near-legendary gob, with its capacious jaw, strained to accommodate it.

For me, he bought a fajita burrito, with marinated chargrilled chicken.

I watched the girl build it with the concentration and ambition of a champion suitcase packer. It will burst, I wanted to cry. I will be a mess. But her expert packing and folding ensured that it didn't and I wasn't. I'll eat my sombrero if these aren't the best burritos in town. And, and, and ... Beer costs just €2.75 a bottle. Ui Rathaile made me drink two. Lighten up, Baby, he said. I poke the lime down the bottle neck with my finger and that is when it hits me: mi amor es un Diablo.

Irish Independent

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