Velveeta Cheesepocalypse Causes Queso Contemplation

velveeta2.jpg
Photo courtesy Velveeta
If someone can find me a koozie crock pot, I'll love you forever.
Gustavo Arellano of "Ask A Mexican" fame recently outlined 15 signs you grew up eating Tex-Mex food for the food blog at OC Weekly. One of those signs is "you know the difference between queso and queso," the italicized version being the Spanish word for cheese, and the plain text being the cheese dip.

Having taken years of Spanish classes in the Texas public schools system (little of which stuck), I know the difference between queso and queso, and I can't remember not knowing it. In my mind, queso has always been "cheese" in Spanish, and queso has always been Velveeta and Ro*Tel.

If you look on either company's website, you'll see the two-ingredient recipe listed, often in a place of prominence. Both refer to it as "queso dip," but we all know the addition of "dip" is unnecessary.

I find it amusing that either company posts a recipe at all. It's two ingredients. You melt one of them and mix the other one into it. Done. But perhaps they make it clear that this union of cheese product and diced veggies is a recipe as a means of warning consumers: This is how you do it. Don't mess with perfection.

I've seen plenty of recipes that call for the addition of cream cheese or ground meat or freshly chopped peppers or -- God forbid -- real cheese. I'm not saying any of these things would somehow make the end product less tasty. They would, however, make it less queso.

The secret to great queso is in that ideal ratio of one pound of Velveeta to ten ounces of Ro*Tel, and here's why:

  • It's ready in five minutes or less.
  • You can cook it in a microwave, and you need to dirty only a single bowl and a single spoon to do so.
  • It re-solidifies in the refrigerator, so it lasts longer. Or something.
  • Velveeta is a miracle of modern science. When it melts (which it does perfectly) it doesn't produce a greasy slick of melted fat. You will never have greasy queso with Velveeta.
  • Ro*Tel comes in original, mild, hot, chunky and Mexican. There is no need to worry about adjusting the spice or the size of your chopped tomatoes and peppers to your preference. It's already been done for you.
  • Velveeta and Ro*Tel have shelf lives of, like, forever.
  • Ro*Tel is already chopped.
  • Velveeta loaves come in six varieties: Original, Jalapeño, Mexican, Queso Blanco, two percent milk and new Sharp Cheddar. Mix and match if you're feeling fancy.
  • Along with roaches and sea monsters, loaves of Velveeta and cans of Ro*Tel will likely survive the apocalypse.
  • When you melt Velveeta and Ro*Tel together, the bright colors look like a fiesta in a bowl.
  • Only the singular combination of Velveeta and Ro*Tel can make you feel simultaneously disgusting and fulfilled after you eat an entire bowl by yourself.

This story continues on the next page.

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15 comments
gruntledpainter
gruntledpainter

Was disappointed that this article was only three pages. Is there a book deal in the works Kaitlin, and where can I pre-order? 


In Queso,


Peter

Htown
Htown

Velveeta is SHIT.

paval
paval

I have made previously the assumption that all the news that the world is running out of Velveeta were fabricated by Kraft in order to push sales of an item that probably sells less now than it has ever before. Why else would the 32oz size be available in plenty but not the smaller sizes. Kraft probably realized that the people are starting to downsize if not cut out at all their "fantastic cheese product" and hence want to create a hype similar to the one experienced due to Sriracha shortages (which seem more legit, since the factory had to shut down by court orders) or the Hostess brands products disappearing (also legit since the company went bankrupt due to eating habits finally changing to the better in the US).


I have always taken issue with the queso Texans are so fond of. For once because it stupidizes the Spanish level of the users, similar to a "mucho cerveza" or "Cinco de Mayo" as Mexican independence Day celebration. Cultural understanding is not done through less understanding of the other culture but through approaching and learning from it. And somewhere I read that learning a second language "properly" makes people more intelligent. 

But I also abhor queso for what it is made of. And here I have to say, with all due respect to the author, who has grown up eating this terrible food, the fact that something was done in one way for ever, does not necessarily make it right. Evolution comes through learning from ones misconceptions and changing them. And as good as queso may taste to an undeveloped palate, it is about the unhealthiest dip out there and represents about the most destroying dish for anyone who supports, praises and believes in artisan, local and natural homemade food. 

Rotel Tomatoes are canned tomatoes produced by ConAgra (same producer of PAM, Hunts, Chef Boyardee and other non-gourmet food brands). They contain Calcium Chloride, a salt used by the food mega-industry to avoid rising the Sodium content (which people react sensitive to) without using the advantages salt provides to taste (so a cheaper and more marketable form of salting). Rotel also adds natural flavor to the mix (this normally means that there is not enough of their name giving ingredient, chilis or tomatoes, and they have to enhance the mouth feel by adding flavors. A natural flavor for strawberries is made out of wood shavings, a natural flavor for coffee syrups is made from a beavers anal gland, so with that precedents, one can imagine that the natural flavor going into a tomato can is coming from anything else but tomatoes or chilies).

Velveeta is produced by Kraft, worlds number 2 in food products and not essentially a local, natural or artisan company, but an exploiter of pretty much any country that produces the raw materials for its food production. 

The last time I checked Velveeta did not even contain cheese but Hydrolized Soy Protein. I was surprised to discover that the first ingredient is Milk nowadays. (As you would expect for a cheese. But the last time I checked FDA had just forbidden Kraft to call Velveeta a cheese and urged them to use the term "cheese like product". very difficult term to marketeer though, hence the possible reformulation to make it more cheesey instead of cheese-like. This also shows that if the consumers seem to care even a food giant like Kraft will change.)

Velveeta also contains Food Starch (a filler to use less of the real ingredients, increasing profits), Corn Syrup (sugar made from cheap GMO corn), Maltodextrin (another sugar produced from most likely corn starch), Apocarotenal (a possible carcinogen) and other binomials, some cuestionable, some not at all.

I am far from a food nazi and all and only natural foods advocate, but for the sake of a balanced journalistic article I would have wished or hoped for a less ad style article for multinational food companies and more of a description of traditional tex-mex queso and some alternatives made from real cheeses and real tomatoes and chilies. 




  

ESandler
ESandler

At college, during the dark, frigid nights of January, my girlfriend and I had a special Texas ritual. I would buy two cases of Velveeta from a grocer friend, pop them into my VW and speed off to her old Victorian house, where I'd unload them, trembling with anticipation. We'd rush the cases upstairs to a bathroom whose focal point was an old white claw-foot bathtub. Placing the bunson burners from Chemistry class beneath the tub, we'd melt all the cheese so it was just right....and at exactly midnight we'd climb in together, descending into the warm yellow goo. We'd sit and chat and nibble on chips for hours, dipping them until our 'bathwater' was nearly gone. Some of the best memories of my life!


Ghibelline
Ghibelline

Intesting stuff, think I'll make some this weekend, I've got a log that's been sitting next to the Duraflames in my kitchen.


I was intriqued to find a chili recipe that called for El Pato tomotoes...huh?...I found some at Randall's and they seem the same as RoTel.

mrcat
mrcat

@pavalRading your post made me tired. I'm going to have a queso snack and a nap.

Nate
Nate

@paval  Lighten up Francis.  Or move back to East Germany.  Either way, STFU.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@paval It's not intended to be an ad-style article, but a personal essay in which I reflect on my own opinion. And that just happens to be that Velveeta is awesome. Don't care if it's not actually cheese or where it comes from. Sorry.

gruntledpainter
gruntledpainter

@ESandler trying this now. Do you think it would work in a shower as well? Nevermind, we shall see momentarily.

gruntledpainter
gruntledpainter

@Ghibelline It's all about the rotel. Though I prefer to add a cup of diced jalapenos for maximum regrettage later in the evening (or morning, as it were)

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Ghibelline I've found a lot of imitation Ro*Tel. It's not as prevalent at grocery stores in the Midwest, so when I was living there, I'd often get the store brand "diced tomatoes and chiles." It doesn't make that much difference. The Velveeta is the important part. Ro*Tel just makes it feel more legit.

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