In a battle of Culinary Conundrums and topped unleavened loaves the great taco vs gyro debate rages on. Tacos and gyros have far more in common than just their appearance. The famed Tacos al Pastor being derived from Lebanese shawarma in the early 1900s when immigrants to Mexico subbed out the flour-based pita for local corn tortillas.
“One could, with proper variety, live a healthy life based solely around tacos something that can’t be said about their greasy cousin.”
In terms of which is better its hard to say that tacos don’t always reign supreme. Unlike gyros, tacos come in a multitude of styles and toppings. Their traditionally corn-based tortillas are filled with whole grains and vitamins that are essential to a good diet. Additionally, the toppings ranging from traditional salsas and sauces combined with various meats and veggies allow tacos to cover a multitude of dietary constraints and create a nutritionally sound diet. Gyros however rely on overly salted meats (part of what gives them their unique texture), as well as fatty sauces. The traditional pita used for gyros is often made with processed flours containing few of the nutrients found in corn tortillas.
Additionally, while gyro variants are confined to other fatty meats and veggies, tacos often feature fresh seafoods as well as tofu or beans allowing greater adaptation to diet and health restrictions. One could, with proper variety, live a healthy life based solely around tacos something that can’t be said about their greasy cousin.
Before I begin, I would like to state that I think it is completely unnecessary to pit two traditional foods from vastly differing cultures against one another because there is some uncited history that claims that tacos came to be due to their inspiration from gyros. This is a compelling point to begin the argument with because no database in the plethora of OSU secured library nor any articles in Google Scholar show a relation between the two.
But I digress.
It’s rather tragic when the backbone of an argument pitting two foods against each other is rooted in health and versatility as opposed to other, I may go as far as to say more important aspects of what makes a meal better than the other: taste.
But if we are going to argue health, here are some things to consider:
The original corn-based tortilla are made slightly less nutritious when they are deep fried as they typically are, unlike the humble pita that is merely heated. Likewise, if we want to discuss caloric value of the two dishes, we must keep in mind that few people go to get Mexican food with the intention of eating one singular taco. Rather many get 2 or 3 tacos with deep fried chips and queso to begin. Whereas the full meal for a gyro is just that: a gyro, possibly with some olives to start.
“If cucumbers, lemon, garlic and greek yogurt is what you call fatty sauces, I would highly recommend trying pounds of cheese that has been melted with flour, butter and cream.”
I would also like to point out the major flaw in the argument that there are no nutritious options for gyro toppings as they are typically packed with tomatoes, lettuce, onion, olives, cucumber and tzatziki sauce made of cucumbers, lemon, garlic and Greek yogurt. Tacos offer some of the same veggies as well, with sauces such as salsa and queso. If cucumbers, lemon, garlic and Greek yogurt is what you call fatty sauces, I would highly recommend trying pounds of cheese that has been melted with flour, butter and cream.
I’d like to clarify the “unique texture” that has been accredited to saltiness. Actually, the texture is due to a long, traditional process of cooking the meat which requires it to be shredded off of a revolving spit like most meats in Greek culture.
Which brings me to my last point. Gyros rank supreme over tacos because they do not try to be anything else. They do not try to meet dietary needs—if you want a vegetarian gyro, take the meat off. As a Greek woman, I can attest that it is hard to replicate the taste and hard work that goes into making a gyro, from forming the meatloaf, to creating the spit, to hand-making the pita bread and tzatziki sauce. I can make a taco at home, but only from a Greek restaurant owned and operated by locals can I truly find a great gyro.
But I guess culture is a mute point when the conclusion of your argument seems to undermine the cultural differences altogether.