Certain dishes say everything you need to know about a region. Queso, or chili con queso, brings Texas to mind instantaneously. Nothing beats ordering a bowl of that cheesy, spicy dip just about anywhere in the Lone Star State. It’s the quintessential Texan hangover or game day food, hands down.
Well, queso is not nearly as Texan as we once thought, according to a few Arkansas restaurateurs and foodies. In fact, an article recently published in the Wall Street Journal states that a few Arkansas restaurant owners consider “cheese dip” to be “one of the state’s biggest culinary treasures.”
Yes, that’s right, people in Arkansas call queso “cheese dip.” Apparently, one myth about this Arkansas cheese dip suggests it was created at a chain restaurant in Little Rock. That doesn’t exactly sound like groundbreaking culinary history. To make matters worse, the state even boasts of their “Cheese Dip Trail” that guests can follow throughout the state.
The contentious fight over the gooey dip gets catty, too. According to Chron.com, Tex-Mex expert Robb Walsh refused to judge the World Cheese Dip Championship in Arkansas. He didn’t judge the contest because “chili con queso” is the correct name for this culinary treasure. Well, there’s no argument here.
Even Lady Bird Johnson wouldn’t have any of this Arkansas folklore. She wrote her own chili con queso recipe for the San Antonio Symphony League’s community cookbook in 1976. If that doesn’t have Texas written all over it, I don’t know what does.
Just saying “cheese dip” feels a little wrong. Sorry, Arkansas, you’ll have to find another recipe to claim as your own.