WASHINGTON - The state of Texas suffered a ghastly gastronomic defeat in the halls of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon, all over cheese.
About a month ago, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton picked an online fight with his GOP colleagues, Texas U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, charging that his home state's Arkansas cheese dip is better than "Texas cheese dip." (Arkansas also claims to be home of the cheese dog, supposedly invented in Little Rock in 1956. That would be eight years before the Razorbacks won their last and only national football championship. Just saying.)
The distinguished Sen. Cornyn gently educated his southern colleague that the proper term for the dish is queso. Cornyn, politey, did not refer to Arkansas cheese dip as swill.
The two state delegations sought to settle the issue in the most obvious way possible: a Senate vote.
Republican senators meeting for lunch Wednesday were offered a blind test of two dishes — Texas queso and Arkansas whatever — and chance to vote for the best. Uncle Julio's of Dallas provided the Texas queso.
Trash talk was intense prior to the lunch. Cotton was not on the scene, thanks to the birth of a child. But his intra-state colleague, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, pitched reporters on the superiority of "cheese dip," citing the state's willingness to experiment with a variety of recipes.
Both Texans arrived with figurative guns blazing. While Boozman spoke to reporters, Cornyn mischievously prodded him to taste the queso on a plate.
"This is a chance to defend the integrity of the mighty state of Texas and the queso that all of us love so much," Cruz said.
Cornyn chimed in, with some worries about queso competitiveness.
"My only concern is that the chile con queso from Texas may have a little bit of spice in it, and it may be a little bit too much for the tender palate" of the GOP senators, Cornyn told reporters. The fears proved prophetic.
Later Wednesday, Boozman tweeted the purported results of the vote, claiming the Arkansas food-like product won.