This is a wonderful concoction made up of Fritos(tm), chili, cheese, and (optionally) onions. If you want a twist on this, use chili cheese Fritos(tm) instead of normal ones. By the way, if you buy the chili, make sure you get chili without beans.

Frito pies are common at high school football game concession stands. The best way to eat them is to wait a little while, so the Fritos can get a little soggy.

Frito pies are not diet cuisine. In fact, they are high-fat. However, they are very tasty.

A couple of years ago, yet another bone of contention between New Mexico and Texas cropped up. This time, it was over who invented Frito Pie.

Santa Fe locals have long claimed that their own Teresa Hernandez, a Woolworth's lunch counter worker, first poured chile con carne over Fritos sometime in the 1960's.

All Texans, of course, knew the falseness of this claim. In our characteristic modest fashion, we shrugged off the immoderate boasts of our beloved neighbor. So it would have remained, were it not for the meddling of The Wall Street Journal, which published a story in 1999 that revealed the true genesis of the dish. In that story, it was revealed that Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Frito-Lay founder Elmer Doolin, first poured leftover Texas chili over Fritos in San Antonio, in 1932.

The efficient Yankees of the Journal produced sufficient documentary evidence to eviscerate New Mexico's claim, so they established a defensive position at "Santa Fe has the best Frito Pie." In all honesty, I can't understand why, because New Mexico has its own unique cuisine, which is universally admired, and which cannot be duplicated elsewhere, due to their intoxicating, inimatable local chiles.

In any case, the largest seller of Frito Pie is Sonic Drive-Ins, which is an Oklahoma-based chain. For trademark reasons, they call their dish chili pie, but it's the real thing. Try it. It's good.

Frito Pie isn't food. Frito pie is ambience. Texans, generally regarded in New Mexico as lacking in aesthetic sensibility, cannot be expected to understand this.

The Woolworth's in question was located right on the ancient Plaza in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Teresa Hernandez' trademark wasn't so much the Frito Pie, as the way she served it: she cut off the top of a bag of Fritos, added some shredded cheese and poured the Texas-style chili right into the bag. You would then take your hot bag of Fritos out of the Woolworth's to the Plaza, and watch the scene: tourists buying turquoise and silver jewelry from Indians sitting under the portal of the Plaza of the Governors, kids skateboarding, low-riders circling endlessly, and so on and so forth.

You haven't had a Frito Pie until you've eaten one out of the bag on the Plaza.


¿What is this Frito Pie?

What you will require:

    One long sleeve cowboy shirt
    Tight blue Levis
    Leather Crazy Horse cowboy boots
    One large white Stetson hat
What you will need to do:

Drive up to the local Circle K. Set a ThirstBuster on the fountain to fill in the mean time get a tall bag of Frito's from the shelf open the side and saunter over to the free condiments for hot dogs. Into the bag put some chili. Put in the microwave for 40 seconds or so.* While you’re waiting tuck the long sleeved cowboy shirt that accidentally came out into the back waistband of your Levi’s. Oh, the ThirstBuster is full. Go get that and remove the sizzling bag of Frito's from the microwave. Now back to the free condiments. Pull the stems from a couple of jalapeños and add them (these provide some nice heat take a taste and sweat, but not too much). Pour a little bit of savory salsa from the ladle in the condiment bowl. Toss in some roughly chopped onions, whole cherry tomatoes, and some pieces of sharp cheddar cheese. Ah, the pie's done. Grab a spork. Add perhaps some more salt and pepper, maybe some extra cheese. Garnish with a spur-of-the-moment wink at that exceptionally friendly woman standing next to you in line.

Oh my Dan’s Frito Pie!

While fresh Frito pie es muy delicioso at the local convenience store, home cooked is good too! This recipe got its beginnings in the 1930’s. With the Frito-Lay Company being based in Dallas, this dish is about as Texan as you can get. A quart of homemade is the best chili to use, but canned chili like Hormel will do just fine. I prefer their turkey or vegetarian brands. Chili No Beans could be substituted for it. Two to three cans are enough for a family style meal.

Have ready three cups of corn chips a bowl of grated sharp cheddar cheese and one large chopped onion. In a two quart casserole dish place two cups of corn chips, arrange the diced white onions and half of the grated cheese on top. Pour the chili over the chips, onion, and cheese. Top with the remaining chips and grated cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until the topping browns (around 40 minutes).

As a pico de gallo:
Combine small dices of medium tomatoes, a fresh minced jalapeño, minced with fresh lime juice, a small red onion chopped and handful of cilantro, salt and pepper, to taste.

More grated cheddar and jalapeño jack cheeses, fresh sour cream or for a healthier choice, yogurt, torn cilantro, shredded lettuce, extra chips.

Serve with:
A fresh fruit salad and toasted Mexican rolls (bolillos) brushed with garlic juice and melted butter.

*Warning: Never put metallic bags in a microwave.

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