Like an edible Titanic. The Stranger

At Gorditos Healthy Mexican Food (213 N 85th St, 706-9352) in Greenwood, they serve something called the burrito grande ($9.30). It's not healthy. Well, that's not fair. It's a perfectly healthy meal if, like 99 percent of the population, you choose not to eat it in one sitting. Three very hungry adults, or six peckish nursing-home residents, could be satisfied by a single burrito grande. But if, like me, you're in that special 1 percent who see these particular kinds of proudly outsize menu items as a challenge, a saucy slap across the face, you will, like me, order a burrito grande and wrestle the whole thing into your mouth. Like me, you will know sorrow.

The menu describes the burrito as the size of a baby, and photos hanging all over Gorditos bear that description out. In those photographs, a couple of nurseries full of newborns, many swaddled, all blissfully unaware of what their parents have done to them, pose next to the burritos. In every photo, they are roughly the same size. These burritos are so huge, they require two large flour tortillas to contain all that pork, those mountains of black beans, the armloads of Mexican rice, the rivers of sour cream and guacamole.

This is not a burrito you can eat with your hand, or even hold in two hands. The structural integrity of the thing just couldn't bear lifting, no matter what your angle or approach. It would split in half and spill its innards everywhere, like some kind of edible Titanic, even though it more closely resembles a white whale on the plate. You approach it with a knife and fork, unsure of where to start.

It is delicious. Like everything I've eaten at Gorditos, it's unpretentious Mexican food without the lard or the gory pools of nuclear-orange cheese you'll find at old-school American Mexican joints. The rice is fluffy, the beans taste fresh, the pork is spicy and not overdone. It's surprisingly well balanced for a burrito that could choke an elephant if it went in sideways.

About halfway through, between the deep moans of a man who promised too much to his beloved, I realized I should have sprung for the extra two dollars to make it a wet burrito; you just can't eat that much food without some sort of lubricant to edge the process along. Luckily, Gorditos has an excellent free salsa bar, and so I doused the second half in a smoky chipotle salsa that reinvigorated my ardor for the challenge.

In the end, I stared at an empty plate, wondering why I had done this to myself. I wouldn't eat another meal for 24 hours, and even then my stomach would groan and creak in protest. Staring at the fluorescent lights shining down on me, I made a vow: This is the last baby-sized thing I'll ever eat in one sitting. It felt like a healthy choice. recommended