| Ro*Tel's Queso Dip Recipe. Photo: ConAgra Foods
"What the hell is that?" is the first question many non-Texans ask when they see the goopy Southwestern cheese dip chile con queso (queso for short and pronounced "kay-so"). The prevalent and heralded form of queso is a mixture of Velveeta
canned tomatoes and chiles. It's usually orange, flecked with red and green chiles, and a crust forms when the dip begins to cool. At the risk of being run out of town: What's so good about that?
When queried, this writer's wife, a Texas native, her relatives and friends answer along the lines of "it's just so good!" Queso is good; so is cow's brains
. Queso is creamy and spicy and won't run off a tortilla chip like other salsas. Crucial to understanding the dip is the facility with which it is prepared. Ready in five minutes, it's a fiesta favorite. Are there Texans at a party you're hosting? Whip out the queso and welcome the adulation. "It's just so good!"
Another reason is Lone Star pride. "Texans have a special place in their hearts for queso and Ro*Tel. Both originated in the state," says Mike Locascio, vice president and general manager at ConAgra Foods
, Ro*Tel's manufacturer.