I spent seven months following the company’s efforts at recovery. The journey took me from rural farms to industrial kitchens, from the hotbeds of Chipotle’s outbreaks in Massachusetts to its fan festival in Arizona, from a summit of food-safety experts in Illinois to the company’s corporate offices in Colorado and New York. I talked to scores of restaurant employees—and I ate more burritos than I can count (never once getting sick). I interviewed the co-CEOs, other top executives, current and former employees, suppliers, and food-industry partners, and I reviewed more than 1,000 pages of internal documents. The story that emerges from all this is provocative and unexpected, a tale of optimism, hubris, bad luck, and missed opportunity.
Chipotle has said it won’t be satisfied until it’s regained all of its lost sales and resumed its momentum. It has pledged to continue to refashion the food system. As a longtime customer, I want to believe them. Everyone wants to believe them. But as I learned, what’s ailing Chipotle is more pervasive and insidious than any foodborne illness. For Chipotle to win back all it has lost will require a soul-cleansing broader than perhaps even Ells and Moran realize.
Before a special night out, a glamorous Parisienne might treat herself to un brushing, at which her hair will be blow-dried and styled. In Moscow, would-be clubbers must first make it past feyskontrol (‘face control’), to ensure that only the beautiful people come in. And those Berliners who just can’t let the party end can carry on at eine Afterhour until well after the sun comes up.
These words – brushing, feyskontrol, Afterhour – seem odd to English ears. We recognise them, sort of, but we’d never use them ourselves – not in those ways, at least. They are borrowed from English but their meanings are new and different; linguists call them pseudo-anglicisms. Sometimes they are English words used to mean something else, other times they are combinations that native speakers find plain weird. Occasionally they’ve been made up to sound like English, but have nothing to do with the language of Shakespeare at all.
“You guys” is the most common way Americans refer directly to a group of people; it is a de facto pronoun, duct-taped together. If you remember your high school linguistics, you might also remember that this pronoun would be the second-person plural. (First person is “I,” second person is “you,” third person is “he/she".) The need for a pronoun to directly refer to a group of people is not a small one, or one that can simply be brushed aside; this is one of the most basic elements of language.
And American English is terrible at it.
In what presents itself as a modest, mischievous little novel, Francine Prose has, modestly and mischievously, given us a great work. Expertly constructed, “Mister Monkey” is so fresh and new it’s almost giddy, almost impudent with originality. Tender and artful, Prose’s 15th novel is a sophisticated satire, a gently spiritual celebration of life, a dark and thoroughly grim depiction of despair, a screwball comedy, a screwball tragedy.