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Meet another chihuahua, as in the cheese

November 10, 2008 |  8:00 am


I'm practically tripping over Chihuahuas everywhere I go. Small wonder the film "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" is such a hit. But what about chihuahua the cheese?

When I asked about it at Andrew's Cheese Shop in Santa Monica, the cheesemonger behind the counter knew just what I meant. His mother is Mexican and he grew up in Chicago, where she used it in everything from quesadillas to stuffed chiles. He didn't know where to find it here, though he's looked.

According to Mexican-cooking expert Diana Kennedy, writing in "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico," the cheese was originally made in the Mennonite communities of the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. She describes it as "a fairly soft cheddar . . . pleasantly acidy, with a good proportion of fat, which means it melts nicely."

It's used for for stuffing chiles and for grating on top of various dishes. She cautions, though, that the "so-called chihuahuas made in the United States bear little resemblance to the original" and advises substituting a good medium-sharp cheddar, domestic block Muenster or a Monterey Jack.

Anybody have any ideas where to find the real thing?

— S. Irene Virbila

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" photo credit: Daniel Daza / Disney