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What the queso?!?! Is Queso Oaxaca and Quesillo the same?

It is believed that at the end of the 19th century, in the year 1885, a family dedicated to dairy products in the state of Oaxaca had left their 14-year-old daughter, Leobarda Castellanos García, in charge of taking care of curdled milk for the production of cheese. However, the little one forgot that task, leaving the curdled milk unchecked for a long period of time. Worried that her parents would find out what happened, she threw a lot of hot water on the dough, which resulted in a smelting that produced a chiclosa mixture, which this girl called quesillo.

Far from receiving a scolding, the girl’s family delighted in its flavor, gaining popularity among locals until it eventually became one of the traditional dishes of Oaxaca. However, different employment opportunities led Oaxacan producers to bring this product to Puebla, where it obtained the name of Oaxaca cheese and generated this dispute between both states.


In fact, if one says quesillo, it is the same as if it said Oaxaca cheese, the only real difference lies in where this dairy product was produced or in the place where it was acquired, but in essence it is the same thing. However, there are those who think that it would be better to keep the name of Oaxaca cheese because this name would give renown to this state outside the country and, like Manchego cheese, gouda or others, the name would be associated with a specific place.

Everywhere I have traveled in Mexico it’s called Queso Oaxaca, except in Oaxaca… it’s always called quesillo here, the name it was given by the 14 year old girl who discovered it by mistake.

No matter what you call it, thank Leobarda Castellanos García for NOT doing what her parents asked. mmmmmm Queso Oaxaca #$%&%$#….. quesillo!


About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.