The history of this delicious bread begins over 400 years ago in the rich farmlands of the newly discovered Brazil….
Pão de Queijo is literally translated from Portuguese as Cheese Bread, although in the beginning it contained no cheese. Back in the 1600’s, slaves in the state of Minas Gerais SE Brazil, began producing manioc (tapioca) starch for farmland owners. The manioc (yucca root) would be harvested, peeled, finely grated and soaked in large wooden bowls filled with water. After washed and drained it would be spread on the floor to dry outdoors.
Resourceful by nature and unwilling to let valuable food go to waste, the slaves would then scrape the leftover white manioc starch from the bottom of the bowls and roll it into small balls which were then baked. In those days the slaves had access to a limited number of ingredients, so the balls were simply baked manioc starch. 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 food 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 it 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 and dinner or anytime – just for fun!
Finally! In 2010 Brazi Bites was founded in Portland, OR with the goal of bringing this delicious and unique bread to the US.