Pão de Queijo: how it came about


In search for something to eat, slaves would scrape the white manioc starch (called polvilho) that remained at the bottom of the gamelas, make small balls and bake them. These balls had neither cheese nor milk in it, just plain polvilho. Two hundred years later, cattle farms became widespread in Brazil, and slaves (that were being freed by that time) gained access to better foods such as milk and cheese. They therefore began to add milk and ultimately cheese when preparing those balls. Voilà, pão de queijo was created. Later this “recipe” spread among the rest of the population, and Pão de Queijo became popular in Minas Gerais.


Nowadays, it is part of the tradition in Minas Gerais to serve  fresh brewed coffee and Pão de Queijo to a visitor.

In Brazilian-portuguese, Pão de Queijo literally means Bread of Cheese.

The origins of Pão de Queijo can be traced back to the 1600’s. At that time, slaves in Minas Gerais state were involved in the manual production of Manioc Flour for the rich farmland owners. They harvested manioc (yucca root), peeled them, finely grated and soaked them in water in a big wood bowl (called gamela),  washed and drained this grated manioc, then spread it on tiled floor outdoors to dry.