Actually, it IS Rocket Science

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Baton Rouge category.

Izzo’s Smuggling

There is a magical place that only exists in Southern Louisiana where tortilla shells grow larger than your entire upper torso and carnitas are slow roasted with a lemon-red-pepper garlic rub until they fall apart with the touch of a feather.  That place is known as Izzo’s Illegal Burrito by its birthrite, but Val Hala by any other.

It’s hard to describe the level of satisfaction that comes with eating an Izzo’s burrito, but if I tried to do so, I’d say it’s as if your tongue were capable of achieving its own carnal peak (in the most platonic sense, of course), this would be the outcome.   Originating in Louisiana’s state capital, Baton Rouge, I came to know and love Izzo’s throughout my duration as an undergraduate at LSU, and would still be a willing advocate for the place to branch out nationally, if not globally.   The place makes Chipotle look like that nasty meat truck that gave you the shits last week; five different kinds of salsa as well as pico de gallo made daily, three different types of lettuce, a variation of cheeses, and a cilantro dressing that makes you want to drink it out of an 84 oz. water bottle in chugs.

Izzo’s had a sign on their exit door that simply read:  ”See You Tomorrow.”  Cocky bastards.  They knew they had you.

Which is why, when I went to visit my parents about a year ago in Lake Charles, a small town over two hours from Baton Rouge, I was beyond ecstatic to find that the heavens looked down on my parent’s small city and had generously placed an Izzo’s within a mile from their residence.  You guys, I about did a triple spit-take when I was riding with my mom to make a last minute run to the mall to see those yellow green and orange letters pop up when we turned the corner, and I wasn’t even drinking anything at the time.  It put me in such delirium to see the installment that I made this weird sort of guttural noise followed by an exclamation that made my mom pump the brakes and me lucky that nothing happened that would make me pay for the damage to the rear of her car if the person behind her hadn’t noticed and smashed into her bumper.


“Oh my god.  Mom.  You guys got an IZZO’S??!!!”


“You guys GOT AN IZZO’S!  LOOK!!”


“Do you REALIZE what this MEANS??!”



“Oh, geez, Ashlin. Should I worry about you?”

And thus began my evening excursions to Izzo’s in Lake Charles.  Since then, without question, every. time. I go home to visit family and friends, I inevitably make the pilgrimage to Izzo’s the night before I leave to go back home.  I enter their fine establishment and order the largest installment on their culinary map:  ”The Illegal” which estimates out to (get ready) TWO THIRTEEN-INCH-TORTILLAS rolled into one, and then STUFFED with as much Mexican fare as you can hold in your pretty little mind.

How do I know this?  I called Izzo’s as I was writing this just to confirm and the guy on the phone casually explained, “Sure.  I mean, it’s just two THIRTEEN-INCH-TORTILLAS that we roll into one.”  Like, NO BIG DEAL.  Just a meal for your entire five person family in one neatly rolled up package.  I do this so that I can partake in its glory for the next few days (don’t think that shit doesn’t stay fresh- I have the technology. I have the capability to make it even better than it was before.  Better.  Stronger.  Fresher. Ice packs).

Anyway.  I order one of these badasses every time I go home, which they carefully wrap in aluminum foil and place delicately in a plastic bag, where I then nurture it, unopened, during its overnight stay in my parents refrigerator and then gingerly tuck it into my carry-on the next morning.

The Lake Charles airport is exceedingly generous in their TSA restrictions, which I’m certain is the only reason I’ve gotten away with such ridiculous behavior over the past several trips.  Do you guys know what it’s like to bring a GIANT ambiguous item wrapped in FOIL through the x-ray machine??  No?  Am I the only idiot willing to take that risk?

Probably so.

But the first time I did it, I kid you not, I explained to the TSA commander-in-chief that I was packing a lunch item with me, and offered to show it to him.  He was gracious enough to explain that he might need to see the item, especially if it were covered with foil, and I obliged, exposing the honking burrito that was larger than my upper body.  Dude took one look at it, inspected within its wrapper, and pulled it out of my backpack.

F&%#ing shit.  So long, Izzo’s.  I hardly knew ye.

The man then proceeded to poke and prod the item in question with such intensity and stealth that I broke out of my Izzo’s-induced derangement and legitimately began to worry that I was going to be taken aside very soon for personal inquisition.

You know that moment in Sophie’s Choice where she’s making The Big Decision?  I was considering the same thing between my burrito and my plane tickets.  No jokes.

And then the guy, I’m not even kidding, places the massive burrito back in my bag and looks up at me and says,

“First of all, how are you going to fit all of that in there?”  pointing to my stomach.

“And next, where’d you get that?  I gotta get my hands on one of those.”

I nursed that burrito for the next several days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with extreme happiness and contentment of a human-and-tortilla-rolled-vehicle-of-bliss match made in heaven , and I can’t wait to do it again.


You want soy with that?

Probably the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever held have been those that circulated around comfortable atmospheres with little-to-no mental acumen required on my part; namely the position of a barista.  Being a coffee-shop employee comes with the hardest part up first: memorizing what arbitrary titles of different drinks and special requests are synonymous with what actions to take next, and after  going through those actions a few times it becomes second nature and you can just coast along on autopilot in a location specifically designed to chill you out.  I also preferred it because due to the fact that I am, for the most part, easy to wake up in the morning, I could knock out my shift in the earliest part of the day and have entire afternoons off to do whatever I wanted.  Like torment other friends who were still at work.

However, somehow the different times that I held this profession were always shit on by different circumstances.  Like the first time my best friend and roommate got me the job, explaining that the management was super laid back, only within the first week of my arrival the management switched hands and I was placed under the care of the most micro-managing boss one can imagine (dude literally crept up behind you while you were steaming milk and would RE-POSITION your hand without warning to achieve “OPTIMAL STEAMED MILK”).  Or the one boss who had us measure out our milk in proportion to our coffee with MEASURING SPOONS.  Or that time the band I was in and I were involved in a hugely detrimental car accident and I spent the majority of the night in the hospital getting stitches in my face only to be required by my boss to come in the next morning. THAT was fun.

So I learned little techniques of uber-sneaky undermining that I used when I had had enough of so much bullshit that were just deviant enough to at worst slightly-inconvenience those who made my otherwise simple job a source of eternal frustration and pissed-off-dom.  Nothing gross like spitting in anyone’s latte or picking my nose and placing it in their food, in fact depending on who you asked, probably did more of a CONvenience than a disservice.

For instance.  You asked for a medium chai latte?  That means two pumps of the chai tea concentrate.  You know what, valued customer?  You get THREE pumps!!  (This actually garnered a lot of compliments.  Showed you, mgmt)

You wanted a ranchero snack wrap?  Why don’t we make that a snack wrap supreme! (meaning I slugged an extra helping of shaved turkey and an extra dipping sauce in there for good measure)

What’s that?  You’re unhappy with your drink that you just downed over half of?  Here.  Let me fix you a brand new one, on the house.

And for the one guy who called me an idiot on my first day of work for putting 2% instead of skim in his beverage, how bout from here on out I ask you along every. single. step of the way of making your half-caf-no-whip-choc-drizz-skinny-blend-red-eye-latte, just to make sure I get it right?

tip your baristas.