Photo by Shane Harms
Nervous onlookers screamed, children cried, and sailors gripped their iPhones and watched as one brave patron tried to consume the entire "Kraken" of El Camion. The Ballard News-Tribune recklessly risked arm and leg to capture an image half-way through the savage feeding.

El Camion scares tourists and challenges locals with burrito-beast

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” is what patrons might scream upon seeing the enormous behemoth burrito beached on a tray before them at El Camion in Ballard (6416 15th Ave N.W.).

Order any one of their epic burritos and you might find yourself yelling gibberish to a seasoned Irish fishermen named Quint that you’ve been cast out to sea, cut adrift in a sinking ship with a relentless giant fin incessantly circling your bewildered confidence.

The mass of meat, bean, pico, and rice might be named the Hispanic Ahab’s “Gran ballena blanca,” deluging with red sauce after a good harpooning from Queequeg. Some Seattle circles swear it’s the culinary manifestation of the true ultra-violence that drove Captain Nemo to despair and madness. Fear and Loathing knows no bounds at 20 thousand leagues below the surface of hunger where the Great Burrito Monster resides. Be weary, reader, if you yell “shark," waiting in the line that flows out the door on a Monday afternoon, there will be panic...and this time, Mr. Hooper will not emerge to the surface to help paddle the jetsam of your ego back to shore after the thrashing.

The popularity of the Mexican restaurant among Seattleites is not surprising. El Camion ranked No. 37 on the 2013 Best Food Trucks in America list. Ballard is now home to the restaurant’s first brick-and-mortar shop, drawing shoals of hungry patrons to its siren.

The menu is a medley of Mexican favorites like arroz con pollo, tamales, camarones a la diabla and as well as tacos and burritos. Pick most parts of a cow and El Camion offers it, including tongue and cheeks. The pork is a house specialty. Aye, the waters are chummed for the feeding. The choices of meat alone prime the mind to want more than what the hand can possibly grab all at once, or rather what the stomach can accommodate.

The burrito follows the same wave. It’s “not like going down the pond chasin' bluegills and tommycods … Chief.” Pick your choice of pork, beef or fish to reside in the belly of its giant tortilla casing and prepare to stare in shock, awe, and disbelief with Chief Brody.

To endeavor into the extreme, test fate, and defy the odds by consuming the whole thing in one sitting is a lustful pipe dream for most sea-fearing citizens of this great city in the Sound. But for the lingering summer tourist, unyielding to rumors and "Beware you fool!" signs, the attempt to devour the devil is certain. They become the skinny dipper alone at night, amid the placid golden-sheeted waters of a moonlit sea, just beyond the crashing waves washing over an idyllically romantic beach (we know what lurks beneath).

Waiting in line, one would never guess, but there are always the few among the lunch-time throng that can do it. They walk just one inch above the rest. They are the “somebodies” that dare to dive into the dark chipotle abyss and quarrel with the tentacles of destiny: the “Ishmael’s” and "Marlow's" that live through it and tell the tale.

Witnesses claim the very feat of devouring the mass is to defy gravity, human nature and one step removed from sauntering into the boxing ring against a gloveless Mohamed Ali or Ernest Hemingway. It’s been reported that the sheer act of eating more than half, just half, is something only Trekkies, newspaper advertising account executives, Tea Party Heavies, Ballard Beatniks and Jack Sparrow might attempt.

Those that have stared into the soulless black-bean-eyes of that burrito-monster find themselves on a different plane entirely -- a hazy dissociation. They speak slower, softer, and share a vacancy in their gaze as if they are reading the words of this very article in the sky. No, no, reader, do not confuse them with the State’s new recreational cannabis customers. These brave patrons have devoured the Darkness and remain forever in the willful salsa-suspension of disbelief. They have shaken hands with Shiva. Most never wear a life-preserver again.

Pity is not for these sailors. Aye, they have all had the satisfaction of saying, ”Smile you sonofabitch!” and blasting a bullet of hubris into the air tank of jealousy lodged in the gaping mouths of surprised onlookers. Tweeting #needabiggerboat with shaking hands will distract them, but will not save them from their nightmares that lie in wait. Lordy.

With the Tweeters, the rest of us weary wanderers that feign in the shallows from such reckless abandon and irresponsible titillation of the tongue, remain in refuge on the fringe of mole-madness. We linger like sailors in steadfast carnitas-lust, peeking over the stern of the ship that is our lives at a wake of wonder, gripped by incredulously jealous meandering and sleepless nights. We are haunted by knowing that the magnanimous Laviathon exists out there in the unknown depths of ravenousness desire, waiting for us, ever approaching with those empty black-bean-eyes in the mystic Seattle wilderness.

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