Forgive me O Trainer, for I have sinned, rendering useless the squats, cleans and lunges I sweated through this morning. Once more, I have dipped chip after chip into that velvety smooth substance know as queso. In my life I have returned time after time to that eternal bowl, seeking bliss.
Even after learning in Portland, Oregon, from an enlightened grocery stocker, that queso “is not a cheese,” I cannot break this eternal bond. Even as it sits, banished from the refrigerated section to the center of the store, block upon block, congealed upon the shelf, I cannot tear myself away. My attraction to this substance is as strong and permanent as the substance itself.
Thanks to its possibly carcinogenic, nefarious ingredients, the pasteurized prepared cheese product undergoes alchemy when melted with salsa. Yet, because it is a liquid, there is often the sensation of not getting enough spicy savory goodness, which makes me take extra big scoops with my chip, causing a drippy mess around the table and myself.
There is no formality to queso eating, but pull it out of the fridge, and suddenly there’s a crowd of eaters (my family, and anyone else in the house) perched around the counter where the queso container sits, all waiting to take turns to dip their chip. Sometimes we can’t even wait for the microwave to heat it up; we shamelessly eat it cold, which, though not as good as warm, does allow for larger chunks of the substance to remain on our chips. The British can have their tea time, with their manners and their scones and their clotted cream. In South Texas, we favor another sort of afternoon snack: queso makes the perfect accompaniment to anything, but especially ice cold beer or Dr. Pepper.
Here, in San Antonio, the queso flows abundantly. My favorite source, Adelante Restaurant, serves a white queso spiked with delicious green chiles, their paper thin tortilla chips just strong enough to spoon them up, their spicy hot sauce an added delight.
Before I sat down to write, I pulled down a sweater from my closet shelf, but as I put it on I noticed a long drip of queso down the front. Sadly, disgustingly, it must have been at least six months old, since this was my first time to wear it for the season. Old dried queso looks the same as new dried queso. It stays preserved like the old French fries I used to find, abandoned to the dark recesses of my car when my children were little.
There are things I find in my life that I return to again and again, and queso is at the top of the list. The other things–art, books, philosophy–may be of higher intellectual import, but queso will always be my fuel.