The Original Nachos Were Crunchy, Cheesy and Truly Mexican – The New York Times

The wives of Americans stationed at a military base in Eagle Pass, Texas, the women had crossed the Rio Grande to shop and were looking for a drink and a bite. Aiming to please, Mr. Anaya ran to the kitchen and made a quick appetizer with ingredients he found. He topped totopos, fried corn tortilla chips, with Colby cheese and slices of pickled jalapeños, and threw them in the oven.

The women loved it so much they asked for seconds, and jokingly ended up calling them Nacho’s special. The dish became an essential part of the Victory Club menu, and a fixture on others in the region. Eventually, Mr. Anaya moved to Eagle Pass and opened a restaurant called Nacho’s.

“Nachos were created in a restaurant of mainly comida casera, the foods that Mexican-American families were eating at the time,” Mr. Medrano said. They are essentially open-faced quesadillas — a very quick meal that’s whipped up in Mexican homes — but made crunchy and bite-size, with Colby cheese.

Colby was widely used in the region during World War II, when nachos were created, said Dr. Adalberto Peña de los Santos, the director of the International Nacho Festival, which is usually held in October on the banks of the Rio Grande. It was a time of hardship on both sides of the border.

“In Piedras, we used to call Colby ‘queso relief,’” he said. “It was one of the ingredients provided by the U.S. government.” People who received the cheese on the American side of the border would share, sell or barter with relatives on the Mexican side.