It all started with "Biza" Maria ("Biza" is a short for grandmother in Portuguese), Debora’s great grandmother, in the beginning of the 1900s, in the interior of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Daughter of a very poor African descendent single mother recently freed from slavery, she had very few memories of her mother, from whom she got separated at a very young age to work at the kitchen of a farm in exchange for a place to live. But she never forgot her mother using yucca starch (cheap and accessible to all at the time) mixed with water to make bread.
Yucca (= manioc = cassava = mandioca or tapioca) root was cheap and accessible to all and could be used as boiled, cooked, fried, shreedded and also as a starch by the Brazilian population due to its availability compared to potato or wheat.
“Dona Maria” got married and started a family at the age of 14. And at the age of 24, she had 9 kids. With a huge imagination and great talent in the kitchen, she added milk and eggs and oil to the recipe and every time there was a bit of money left... also cheese. Many other talent home cooks did the same and each family had/has its own recipe... but, (not to brag or anything)... "Biza" Maria's recipe was to die for! And thats how the "secret family recipe" started...
Dona Jandyra, the oldest daughter, would spend most of her time helping her mom cooking, doing shores and raising the youngest siblings. And when she herself got married, she taught her daughter (Marilusa), and her granddaughter (Debora) the recipe as well.
Debora’s memories of childhood revolve around long afternoons making cheese breads and “other goodies” at the amazing kitchen of the cottage “custom made” for her grandma’s needs to feed hungry happy mouths on long stretched holidays and summer/winter vacations. on her own words: "I was born in Rio de Janeiro, but my heart is from Minas Gerais.
Debora moved to the USA in 1998, and had an unstoppable craving for cheese breads, and the cravings got worse when she got pregnant of her daughter in the beginning of the year 2000. She called grandma, adapted the recipe for whatever cheese that was available in Utah and Dona Jandyra sent 5 kilos of yucca starch by mail… The recipe was SOOO good that Debora made of that a tradition to bake pao de queijo for family and close friends on every Holiday season. And eventually buying starch became easier all over Noirth America... for Debora's and her daughter Adrianna's delight! With the passing of the years Debora started using herbs, garlic, jalapeno and so many other ingredients... even guava paste to give a little of her adventurous personality to the recipe. But she never in a million years would have imaginerd for this to become a business 10 year later!
Yucca is a tradition and a main ingredient in the Brazilian culinary (such as rice and beans). Originating from the Amazon region, it tastes delicious and was first used by the indigenous population since early 1700s. The soil on the north- central/west of the country has the perfect combination of nutrients to make it an edible root with lots of vitamin C and antioxidants, which boosts immunity, stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, (which fight infections and viruses), and improves overall health. Each region of Brazil has its own "signature dishes", and aparently there are 4k+ registered recipes around the country. Among the popular brazilian dishes made with the root are "farofa", "biju" and "mandioca cake". But "pao de queijo" is a creation of Minas Gerais state, what is home for the best and biggest variety of dairy products of the country. ITS DELICIOUS, EASY TO COOK WITH AND YES!!!... ITS GLUTEN FREE!