The “punch” line:
Arkansans, you see, are under the preposterous impression that queso—or, okay, cheese dip—is an Arkansas thing. They practically recognize it as an unofficial state dish, right alongside chocolate gravy and biscuits. Arkansans proudly claim that this warm, oozy, and comforting cheesy foodstuff was invented in the 1930s at the Little Rock restaurant Mexico Chiquito, and will often point to In Queso Fever: A Movie About Cheese Dip, a twenty-minute documentary by an Arkansan that makes the same claim while delving into the state’s understandable love of queso.
But the flaws in this scandalous assertion are so glaring that the Texanist is reluctant to legitimize the false claim with a response, preferring instead to let the historical record do the talking for him. In her book Queso! Regional Recipes for the World’s Favorite Chile-Cheese Dip, Texan Lisa Fain, a.k.a. the Homesick Texan, points out that the founders of Mexico Chiquito, W.F. “Blackie” and Margaret Donnelly, were both Texans, and before opening the Little Rock Mexico Chiquito in 1938, they had opened the first Mexico Chiquito in Kilgore, in 1936. The fact is, the Donnellys were responsible for introducing the term “cheese dip” to Arkansas, but neither the Donnellys nor Arkansas are responsible for introducing queso to the world. Fain does a deep dive into the queso bowl and comes up with an origin story that, surprise-surprise, stars Mexico rather than Arkansas.
And there’s more, including typical Texas snootiness:
Simply (and as politely as possible) explain to them, between bites, that so-called Arkansas cheese dip is in fact queso and that it is Mexican and Tex-Mexican in origin and not Arkansan or Ark-Mexican. And, further, explain to them that the regional cuisine known as Ark-Mex doesn’t even exist and if on the off chance it does exist, tell them that you aren’t the least bit interested in exploring it—because you are full from all the queso.