In the Beginning
Originally Brazilian Cheese Bread contained no cheese. In the 1600s, slaves in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais began producing tapioca starch from the yuca root (also known as manioc root) for farmland owners. The yuca root would be harvested, peeled, finely grated, and soaked in large wooden bowls filled with water. After being washed and drained, the yuca root was then set out to dry.
The Yuca Root
Resourceful by nature and unwilling to let valuable food go to waste, the slaves would then scrape the leftover tapioca starch from the bottom of the bowls and roll it into small balls which were then baked. Limited in ingredients, the balls were simply baked manioc starch.
Milk & Cheese
About 200 years later, agriculture had improved to the extent that the now freed slaves began to experiment by adding milk and cheese to the recipe. The result was a snack so irresistible that it quickly spread throughout the country, generating a sort of “cheese bread culture” that has evolved for centuries as the legend of Pão de Queijo has gone global.
In Brazil Today
Pão de Queijo has become ingrained in everyday life and is ever-present at special events and gatherings. It brings people together and lifts their spirits during breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any time!