Tuesday, October 31, 2017

November events



Driving around Texas is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m thrilled I am about to hit the road again and roam across my home state to do events for my new book, QUESO!: Regional Recipe for the World's Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip.

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be visiting stores, festivals, and churches in order to eat and talk all things queso with y’all. If you want to follow along, updates will be posted on Facebook and on Instagram.

Here is my schedule and I look forward to seeing you!

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Felix queso



So, first things first. I never had the famed Felix queso at its original home, a Southeast Texas regional chain of restaurants owned and operated by the late Tex-Mex pioneer Felix Tijerina that first opened in 1937. I’m not sure why my family never ate there but perhaps it’s because we’re Dallas transplants, and the people who are mad about Felix were usually born and bred in the Houston area.

That said, for years I’ve heard nothing but both praise and derision for this queso. The latter is due mainly to its peculiar appearance (some poorly lit photos make it look like unappealingly oily and inedible), while the former is due to its unique flavor and texture. And for those that love Felix queso, they really, really, really love it. It is so adored, in fact, that when the last standing Felix restaurant on Westheimer closed in 2008, people placed gallon-sized orders of the queso to stockpile in their freezers. These fans couldn’t bear life without their beloved dip.



Fortunately, another Houston restaurant named El Patio bought the rights to the Felix recipes and you can now get many of the old favorites there, such as the cheese enchiladas, the crispy tacos, and of course, said queso. Since no book about queso would be complete without a recipe for this Houston icon, last year when I was doing my queso tour across Texas while doing my research, I made a stop there one afternoon. I was thrilled to finally eat Felix queso at last.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Chili parlor queso

Chili parlor queso | Homesick Texan

When I started researching the history of chile con queso for my new book, periodicals and books revealed it had been a popular dish at the Johnson White House in the 1960s. That made sense, as President Johnson and his wife Lady Bird were both Texans who knew queso was a must at any gathering.

Most guests were receptive to the dish, but the White House’s French head chef RenĂ© Verdon hated it. In fact, he loathed chile con queso so much that he derisively referred to it as “chile con-crete.” When I first heard what he said, I laughed as I could imagine a person with a French accent and a sneer looking at a slow cooker burbling with queso and uttering that phrase. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that clearly the chef had not tasted the queso because if he had I know he would have changed his mind.

Indeed, when I first moved to New York and would make queso for my friends, the Texans would of course make a beeline to the pot but the non-Texans would make faces and say, “What’s that?” When I’d explain to them what it was and how it was made, they’d be even more snobby about the dish. But I always encouraged them to take one bite. And after they dipped that first tortilla chip into the pot they’d marvel over how creamy and delicious queso can be.

Chili parlor queso | Homesick Texan

The Johnson family was proud of their state’s culinary heritage and Mrs. Johnson often shared with the press the recipes that came from the kitchen of the family’s personal chef, Zephyr Wright. Most were classics that would look familiar to any Texan, but strangely enough, the first queso recipe she gave called for aged cheddar.

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