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Chile con Queso
A staple of the cuisine known as Tex-Mex, the primary elements of this dish are chilli peppers and cheese. This versatile sauce can be napped over enchiladas, burritos and other regional specialties, served with tostadas or tortillas, or, when cooled and congealed, scooped up and licked off a finger. Popular throughout the southwestern US, Chile con Queso has reached its day-glo, artery-clogging apotheosis in the great state of Texas, where any Mexican joint worth the salt on the rims of its margarita glasses can serve up a huge bowlful of the stuff on command.
Like fajitas and other examples of Tex-Mex food, Chile con Queso has its roots in the frontier cuisine of cowboys and vaqueros (Spanish cowboys) on either side of the US/Mexico border. Originally composed of asadero cheese, fire-roasted chillies and the spicy pork sausage known as chorizo, all baked together over an open flame, Queso, as it is regionally known, has evolved in many directions. Most contemporary renditions include Velveeta (the festive, brightly-coloured cheese-like substance well known for its superior melting qualities and alarmingly long shelf life), Ro-Tel (a regional variation on canned tomatoes), and pickled jalapenos.
Chile con Queso, along with chicken fried steak, barbecue and garlic-cheese grits, is ubiquitous at the dinner parties of expatriate Texans all over the planet. Should you run into it at a Texan home, do not be apprehensive; if swallowed, it can do no worse that incrementally increase the odds that you will suffer debilitating health problems later in life.
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