Culture

17 Latino Foods That Taste Great, But You Should Avoid Eating Too Often

Expressions of love and joy. If we had to sum up what cooking and food means in the Latino culture, those terms pretty much nail it. Por que? Because for most, our earliest childhood memories revolve around the cocina in our homes where cooking alongside mami and abuela were a regular happening. No tengo hambre is basically a swear word, si?

Yet in today’s culture of Instagram perfection and with more focus on eating healthy for longevity and looks – we may need to cut back on some of the more traditional eats (think: those loaded with lard).

We’ve gathered a lengthy list of our most delicious favorites. But by no means is this a warning to stay away from these classic foods for good, after all, rich foods mean rich traditions.

1. Flautas

Twitter @carnitasmexica2

Flautas get their name from their shape. These crowd-pleasing favorites consist of corn tortillas being filled with everything from shredded meats and cheeses to onions and papas.

Once they are filled – then the magic happens, as in throwing them into the fryer magic. Out comes a crispy, warm, cousin to the taquito, bursting with savory yumminess – that you should delight in sparingly.

2. Tortillas con queso

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Maybe you call these round beauties “quesadillas” or “pupusas de Queso” but no matter what region of the world you eat them in, one thing is for certain, cheese stuffed tortillas make for good eats.

But all that cheese can add up to a lot of saturated fat and higher cholesterol levels.

3. Ceviche

Twitter@CasaSolyMar1

Ay Dios mio, surely this dish is delicious and not unhealthy. True, but those fried tostadas we use as a fork substitute to shovel this succulent seafood dish into our mouths – yeah, not so healthy.

4. Queso Fundido

Twitter@CncharliesLV

With this dish it’s all in the name, FUN-dido! This ooey-gooey, molten dish of cheese has a place in our collective corazones. Add some tequila, throw in some chilies for a bit of heat or just serve this pot of deliciousness up as is. This is definitely a celebration kind of meal to be enjoyed on occasion.

5.Huevos Rancheros

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This traditional Mexican breakfast packs a lot of paunch, I mean, punch. Fried eggs, refried beans, and cheese smothered in a creamy tomato sauce and heaped on top of a warm tortilla.

Most of us could dive into a plate of huevos rancheros morning, noon, or night. But keep in mind, all the fried and refried bits make this classic high in calories.

6. Chiles Rellenos

Twitter@Sergio_Perez13

Cheesy-stuffed chilies, breaded and fried to perfection. There are endless variations of this Mexican dish being created all over the globe. So if you can’t see yourself limiting your consumption of chilies – try one of the healthier takes on this staple, such as broiling or baking the peppers instead of frying.

7. Chorizo

Twitter@xchuyx3

The main ingredient is pork fat… see, it’s dripping with health! Okay, it’s not, but chorizo is muy deliciosa—it can be served smoked, sweet, spicy but what it isn’t, is heart healthy. So, take it easy on the sausage mis amigos.

8. Platanos maduros fritos

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A true staple in any Latin kitchen—of course your more traditional relatives might argue ripe plantains are the only real way to make this dish to lock down the sweetest fried treat possible.  

9. Hot Dogs

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We’ll call this dish “new-age” Latin, even though bacon wrapped dogs have been associated with Sonora since the ‘40s. These pork masterpieces have been Latino inspired since their inception.

Popular toppings include chilies, sour cream, even crumbed chorizo — ay the possibilities!

10. Tostadas

twitter@TacosMexi

The picture a tostada paints is pretty clear—it’s a “toasted” (and by that we mean deep fried) tortilla of excellence. Again, eating deep fried food on a regular basis increases a myriad of health risks, think diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.

11. Nacatamal

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A Nicaraguan specialty, nacatamales are seen a lot especially in legit eateries and possibly your abuelita’s freezer. Wrapped in plantain leaves and stemmed, it’s hard to believe this beautiful dish isn’t healthy. I mean there’s leaves involved people! But the base for the tamal is usually a lard dough mixture—definitely not something you’ll see on a recommended food pyramid.

12. Sopes

Instagram@_chicaflash

Again with the frying, again with the variants, but sopes hit-the-spot 100% of the time.  We get that it’s hard to wave away these thicker versions of tortillas, presented with mouth-watering meats, vegetables, and cheeses. Can it be healthy if it’s literally fried just so it can hold up against its massive toppings load? You know the answer…

13. Empanadas and Pastelitos

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It’s an empanada, it’s a pastelito, it’s a Latino version of a calzone – whatever you want to call it, these meat-stuffed turnovers, fried golden brown are hard to resist and hard on your health.

14. Flan

Instagram@pedrolambertini

Flan is just one of those desserts…caramelized sugar and a creamy egg custard whipped up to edible glee. It may require just three base ingredients, but this confection can send you and your blood sugar soaring.

15. Arroz Con Pollo

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This dish goes by a few different names. Whether you know it as Arroz con pollo, Locrio de pollo or simply mama’s chicken and rice, this classic is briny, aromatic and oh so flavorful. With healthy-esque components like chicken, peas (hello, Goya) and onions, it seems like a fairly fit dish. But given that we usually like the darker meat and a fair amount (read: lots and lots) of rice loaded in, this meal is infused with high levels of sodium.

16. Tacos

Twitter@TonyOnFood

Tacos have made their mark in America; food trucks, taco shops, and even gourmet eateries offering these incredible concoctions up to hungry patrons. While there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on where tacos came from, the most common theory is they were developed by mine workers in Mexico. Something to think about as you work your way through a plate of pastor or pescado tacos on occasion, of course.

17. Churros

Instagram@foodylandia

Churros are the enemy and by that we mean way too good to stop at one. These dessert items are seen throughout Latin America sold by street vendors and restaurants alike. Like most things on our list, these delights are made from fried dough then sprinkled with sugar, drizzled with chocolate, made into magical unicorn horns… you know ALL the things.

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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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