Mexico is abuzz this week with news from the Department of Engineering at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla that tacos are not only good for you, but they're also downright healthy.
In a paper with the awesome title “Tacos al Pastor y Flautas de Cochinita Pibil ¿Sabes qué es lo que comes?” (“Do You Know What You're Eating?”) in the latest issue of Saberes Compartidos del Consejo de Ciencia y Tecnología del Estado de Puebla (Shared Findings of the State of Puebla's Council of Science and Technology), researchers put tacos and flautas through a rigorous chemical analysis to determine what exactly constitutes their nutritional makeup, picking the regional favorites tacos al pastor and flautas de cochinita pibil as case studies. The findings should shut up once and for all those Americans who insist Mexican food is inherently unhealthy–it ain't in moderation and is actually downright beneficial.
This ain't no joke: The researchers assiduously detailed their methodology, buying their tacos and flautas from street vendors in San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, and noting the ingredients (white onions, cilantro, pineapple, salsa and lime in the tacos al pastor; cream, cheese, red onions, and red and green salsa in the flautas) and taking amateurish photos of each. Rather than eat the treasures, though, they put them through an immersion blender to create a mush, then ran the results through machines to analyze for water content, grease, protein, carbohydrates and minute traces of ash that happen from putting tortillas on the grill. The tacos al pastor were composed of 42 percent water, 21 percent protein, 24 percent carbs and 12 percent grease; the flautas came out to 43 percent water, 41 percent carbs, 12 percent grease and 4 percent protein.
“In reality, [tacos and flautas] aren't bad meals,” the report argues. “The error that many of us Mexicans [Gustavo note: and gabachos] commit is including these types of dishes in our regular diet without an appropriate balance of them and falling into excessively eating them; accompanied by a lack of physical activity, it creates bad eating habits.” The good docs go on to note that people can eat tacos and flautas without negatively affecting their health, but “the key resides in controlling the quantity and frequency of eating these types of meals.” They also make the point that overall, tacos and flautas have less grease than doughnuts, french fries and even some health bars, although they didn't specify which brands in the latter.
In a subsequent blog post, the scientists go on to describe flautas as an “energy food” due to their composition, and conclude by recommending that a healthy diet can include three tacos al pastor or four flautas per order, “controlling the frequency of intake.” So have at it, boyos, but in moderation. And I can already hear the skeptics: What about tacos de chicharrones? Why not focus on carne asada? Did they take into consideration chiles de mordida? Did they factor in horchata? And whither the burrito variable? Let the haters hate, and let's rejoice in some of the best food news to come out of Mexico since the Sonora dog!