In Portuguese, pão de queijo literally means cheese bread. But in the beginning, it was made without cheese. Back in the 1600’s when slaves in the state of Minas Gerais were making manioc flour for the farmland owners, they used to harvest manioc (same family than cassava root but different texture), peeled, finely grated and soaked them in large wooden bowls, called “gamela”, filled with water. After being washed and drained, the manioc was then spread on the floors outdoors to dry.

Resourceful by nature and unwilling to let valuable food go to waste, the slaves managed to scrape the white manioc starch that remained at the bottom of the bowl, to make small balls which then were baked. These balls had neither cheese nor milk added due to the limited access of ingredients in those days.

Around 200 years later, agriculture had improved and slaves gained access to better foods such as milk and cheese, they used the left over from them “lords” to improve their recipe. 

As a result, the delicious pão de queijo was created and quickly became a national favorite. It has become a part of everyday life in Brazil and is a must have at special events and gatherings. This delicious treat brings people together and shared over breakfast, lunch and dinner.