Saturday September 6, 2003
Book 4: The Blackness Between — Part I: Needle in a Haystack
those readers who have, against all reason, developed a hankering for a chupaqueso will be happy to know that it's possible to make one. You will need a good teflon skillet, a fairly sharp teflon spatula, some sharp cheddar, some fresh parmesan, and some Monterey Jack cheese.
  1. Grate about a half-cup of cheddar and a half-cup of jack.
  2. Heat the skillet, and spread the cheddar evenly in the pan. You should have an eight-inch diameter circle of grated cheese, with a little bit of pan showing through here and there.
  3. As the pan gets hotter the cheese will obviously melt. Then it will toast, and you'll get cheese-grease floating on top of melted cheddar, itself on top of a layer of crusty toasted cheddar.
  4. Start lifting around the edges with the spatula. You'll soon reach a point (you'll know, trust me) when the structural integrity of the crusty-toasty cheese allows you to flip the whole thing over.
  5. (Speaking of "over," this is often the point where you'll get frustrated and decide to start over.)
  6. After toasting side two for a moment, flip it again so the "smooth" side is down, and the recently toasted side is up.
  7. You now have a cheese shell sizzling in a puddle of cheese grease. It's still flexible, but much longer and it won't be, so you'll have to work fast. Add the Jack cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan, and then tri-fold the cheddar-shell around it.
  8. Slide it out of the pan onto your plate. It's called a "chupaqueso" either because you can suck (chupa) the cheese (queso) out of the middle as you crunch away, or because this cheese (queso) thing you made sucks (chupa).

For added flavor you might try adding cooked-and-crumbled bacon with the jack and parmesan. In this case you'll end up with a chupaqueso con tocino, or, as it's often pronounced in my house, "chupaqueso con SWEET TRADER OF PORK BELLIES THERE'S BACON IN THIS THING chomp chomp AAARGH I BURNED MY MOUTH slurp gulp chomp."

For the record, it's much easier to make a chupaqueso by sliding your credit card into a Popso 2250 Autovend. Officially licensed Tacobufa Chupaquesos are seamless, oblong, cheese-crust shells around a patented six-cheese blend. For just a little more money the Bufador Mealy-Dealy gets you a drink and a large order of Monosfritos (made with freshly-picked monos, or so I've been told).


Kevyn: Captain, you remember that vending machine you were going to deduct from my pay?
Tagon: Yes. I haven't had a proper chupaqueso in weeks.
Kevyn: Well, it's fixed. Repaired under warranty, at no charge to us, even.
Tagon: Oh? Nice work.
Kevyn: It's some of my best work, if I do say so myself. It's the kind of finagling that I believe deserves a bonus.
Tagon: Just because I get away with double-billing some of our engagements doesn't mean you can start double-billing me, Kevyn.
Kevyn: All I ask is for one round of chupaquesos on the house.