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10 Catt. 2: In re Borinquen Lunch Box

2012 June 12

CATTLEYA, J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. JEREMY, C.J., wrote a separate concurrence.

We granted cartiorari to Borinquen Lunch Box (“BLB”), a food truck that serves Puerto Rican cuisine. We were lured in by the indulgent description of the Tripletas, a sandwich (as the name indicates) with three types of meat — roasted pork, skirt steak, and ham — plus lettuce, tomatoes, and potato sticks. We review the Tripletas in a companion case, In re Borinquen Lunch Box (The Tripletas Case), 10 Catt. 3 (2012). In the instant case, we review a side dish. While we were standing in line to place our order, an item called alcapurrias caught the attention of our growling stomachs. BLB’s website describes alcapurrias as “beef-filled plantain fritters.”

Borinquen Lunch Box


We easily find that this side dish satisfies our Eat Wonky test for street food. Street food is “the kind[] of food[] that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011). If a dish qualifies as street food, then this Supreme Cart must affirm the dish, unless we rebut the presumption and show that the dish should not be served on the street. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012). Alcapurrias, like other deep-fried finger foods (e.g., corn dogs, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fried Oreos®, jalapeno poppers) are street food. We cannot rebut the presumption of affirmance; alcapurrias belong on the street.


Like other trucks on the street, BLB needs a little time to prepare each order, so BLB asks for your name when you place your order. This always causes a bit of a conundrum for us Justices. For the sake of order and fairness, we prefer to eat under a shroud of anonymity and so we often assume pseudonyms. On the day of our visit, the Chief Justice provided the name “George.” You can see where BLB wrote “George” on our takeaway bag. (I was “Barbara.” This was a little more subtle than the day when the Chief Justice was “Sonny” and I was “Cher.”) See also In re Bada Bing, 5 Catt. 2 (2012) (also providing a false name to preserve anonymity).


To begin, we note that despite the use of the plural on BLB’s online menu (saying “Alcapurrias” and “fritters”), BLB only serves one fritter per order. The attentive reader might catch on to this from reading the menu on the side of BLB’s truck, which describes “alcapurrias” (plural) as “green banana fritter stuffed with beef” (singular) (emphasis added). I was not reading carefully that day, so I was disappointed when there was only one alcapurria in our bag.

The verdict? The alcapurria was good — not great, but most certainly not bad. The ground beef filling was seasoned mildly. The resulting flavor was tasty, but nothing too very far from what salt and pepper achieves. The plantain fritter was thick and chewy. It contributed little to the flavor; its job was to contain the meat filling, which it did rather nicely (it did not crumble and fall apart in the hands). Unsurprisingly, given its deep-fried nature, this side dish was on the heavy side. Not an everyday item, that is for sure.

Although the Cart ultimately affirms BLB’s alcapurria, we also suggest an improvement. The alcapurria had one taste (the ground beef) and one overall texture (the combined softness of the ground beef and doughy fritter). An accompanying condiment, such as a hot sauce, would do much to enhance the eating experience. A fruity sauce might even do. Although the Chief Justice and I are skeptical of fruit-based sauces, it has been done well. See In re El Floridano, 2 Catt. 2 (2011) (excellent use of spicy guava sauce).


At $3, BLB’s alcapurria is a decent snack or appetizer. Its flavor is not out of the ordinary or particularly striking — it could even be improved with a condiment to deepen the flavor. But it satisfies the stomach in the way that other deep-fried goodies tend to be satisfying: it’s hot, filling, greasy, and comforting.

AFFIRMED in part and REMANDED in part to Borinquen Lunch Box for revision.

JEREMY, C.J., concurring.

I concur in my sister’s relatively sound opinion. I would only note that, once again, she fails to first address the text before reaching her conclusion. She prefers instead, it would seem, to invoke spirit and assumptions, in the tradition of Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892). So it was in this Cart’s decision in In re China Garden, 5 Catt. 1 (2012), and so it is here. My sister notes that an order of alcapurrias was described as a “green banana fritter [singular] stuffed with beef” and yet expected multiple fritters. I will admit that there is some ambiguity in the text to be construed, but that ambiguity is easily resolved in favor of the singular. In her defense, she writes that she “was not reading carefully that day.” But I am beginning to notice a disturbing trend in my sister’s jurisprudence: under scrutiny, her process of interpretation crumbles like the ground beef filling of a green banana fritter. I concur, but I must note also my disapproval.

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