Congress

Queso showdown: Texas vs. Arkansas in Capitol Hill cheese-off

Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and John Boozman, R-Ark., left to right, crack jokes about the upcoming competition between cheeses at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7, 2016. A blind-tasting contest was held at the Capitol Building today among senators to determine which had the better taste: Arkansas Cheese Dip or Texas Queso.
Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and John Boozman, R-Ark., left to right, crack jokes about the upcoming competition between cheeses at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7, 2016. A blind-tasting contest was held at the Capitol Building today among senators to determine which had the better taste: Arkansas Cheese Dip or Texas Queso. McClatchy

Capitol Hill is filled with cheesy press events, but Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn just laid claim to the cheesiest.

After a Twitter spat erupted over Arkansas’ claim of having the best cheese dip ahead of Texas’ famed queso, Cruz and Cornyn engaged in a friendly blind taste test competition with Arkansas Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman on Wednesday.

The Texans lost.

As Republican senators rolled in for their weekly steering lunch in the Capitol, they were invited to try Arkansas cheese dip from current World Cheese Dip Champion, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., of Little Rock, Ark., and queso from Uncle Julio’s of Dallas, Texas.

Uncle Julio’s, a chain with multiple locations outside of Texas, couldn’t match up with Heights Taco & Tamale.

“It just tastes good, it speaks to the soul,” Cruz said in an ode to queso as Cornyn smiled in the background. “Cheese dip can be on a Ritz cracker, or on one of those tiny Vienna sausages. Real queso was meant to be scooped up with tortilla chips, dribbling down your chin and onto your shirt.”

The debate originated after Cotton tweeted a link to a Wall Street Journal article claiming Arkansas was usurping Texas’ claim as the home of true queso.

One minute later, Cornyn issued a quick response.

Cotton was unable to attend the event, as his wife was in labor. Cruz described Cotton’s maternity-related absence as an “elaborate way to avoid losing.”

But Texas couldn’t defend its rightful place in the cheese world in the eyes of the Senate – although Cruz argued after the loss that the vote was “rigged.”

“One is a visceral, emotional, powerful family bond. You and your kids pore into nachos covered in queso,” Cruz said. “The other is party favors at an afternoon tea.”

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty, adaugherty@mcclatchydc.com

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