Now that's cheesy!

Drinking My Own Tex-Mex Apologist Kool-Aid

This week

I complained about the lack of Velveeta

in the cheese enchiladas at El Jardin. I take a lot of shit for my honesty on the subject of Velveeta.

While I was researching recipes for The Tex-Mex Cookbook, I came to realize it’s an unavoidable part of Tex-Mex. It was the cheese enchiladas at Larry’s in Richmond that convinced me. They make them with a Velveeta-like processed cheese. And that’s the only way to recreate the cheese enchiladas I remember from the 1970s, the ones that left a pool of cheese and chili gravy on the plate. If you don’t stuff them with Velveeta (or one of its equivalents), the cheese won’t bleed into the gravy.

The main recipe for chile con queso in The Tex-Mex Cookbook comes from Mi Tierra in San Antonio and calls for equal parts Velveeta and cheddar, along with cream, jalapeño and onion.

In a discussion about imported and domestic cheese on the Portland Food and Drink Web site, my friend ExtraMSG takes me to task for my Velveeta recipes:

“I know Texans like Robb Walsh try to insist that Velveeta makes good food, but he’s just plain wrong. He’s drank a little too much of his own Tex-Mex apologist Kool-Aid. I’ll put mornay-based chili con queso made with a tasty cheddar against the salty solidified Cheez Whiz that is Velveeta.”

“He’s drank a little too much of his own Tex-Mex apologist Kool-Aid” is a hilarious turn of phrase. And I imagine that Velveeta would be a hard sell in a food hipster town like Portland. But if ExtraMSG is dipping tortilla chips in gruyere and parmesan-flavored mornay sauce, then either he doesn’t know the difference between queso and fondue, or he has gone over to the dork side. -- Robb Walsh

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