Examining Arizona’s state food: The Chimichanga

If Phoenix, Arizona has a single food that people know it for, it’s probably the chimichanga. Tourists have been known to travel great distances in order to try new dishes they can’t find at home, and the same is true in Arizona. Even so, Arizona still doesn’t have an official state food. Ken Cheuvront served as an Arizona legislator from 1995 to 2011, first in the Arizona House of Representatives and then in the Arizona Senate, but he can’t remember anyone putting forth an official Arizona state food initiative in all those years.

That sentiment was echoed at the State Library, Public Records Office, and Archives. In almost two decades, there hasn’t been a bill to name a food for Arizona. That seems crazy when one considers the number of other states to make a name for themselves through food. Even cities have jumped on the bandwagon. When a law isn’t already in place, the mindset is, and people travel to a certain place for a certain food offering. That’s just the way it is.

You go to Arkansas if you have a hankering for chicken and dumplings. You head over to Idaho for finger steaks. You can pick up spam musubi in Hawaii–and isn’t that so, so appetizing? You travel to Maine if you’re in the mood for lobster. New York for buffalo wings. The list goes on and on.

In 2012, chain Mexican restaurant Macayo’s petitioned to have the chimichanga become the state’s official dish. Even though the petition was coupled with an advertising campaign, it didn’t quite catch on. The state might be known for the chimichanga, but it still isn’t the official state food.

The supposed origin of this food is amusing enough. Monica Flin was working in her restaurant El Charro located in Tucson, Arizona when she dropped a burrito into a fryer. She started to curse but held back. Instead, she screamed what would become the name of the tasty food–the chimichanga!

That was in 1922.

These interesting creations are still prepared like a typical burrito using a long list of tasty ingredients. A flour tortilla is usually filled with beans, rice, cheese, dried and marinated meats, and then deep-fried. In addition, you’ll usually enjoy a side of salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

What food would you choose for Arizona?

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