Experience Pão de Queijo
Words by Jessica Devenyns Photos by Ashley Haguewood
When was the last time you heard of a trade embargo on wheat inspiring the creation of one of the most delicious, gluten-free baked goods available today? Well, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the result is a cheesy reproduction of the original—in the best way possible.
“About 200 years ago, Europe stopped sending flour to Brazil because they wanted to be independent… So [Brazilians] started to make bread with what they had, which was tapioca. They mixed it with milk, eggs, and cheese too,” explains Christiano Prado, the founder of Lua Brazil, the only place in Austin where you can purchase pão de queijo or Brazilian cheese bread. His centuries’ old recipe is a staple in Brazil but something that has yet to make inroads here in North America.
After several weeks of bringing his pão de queijo to every party he attended, Christiano observed that people were coming by just to try his cheesy creation. Today, he notes the Lua business model is much the same. “People just come [to his Hope Farmers’ Market stand] to taste and go, ‘Oh my God, I want that.’”
Loaded with cheese, gluten-free, and springy to the touch, you can’t help but blame people for coming back for more. And Christiano makes sure that they do. “In Brazil, you’re not going to find different flavors of cheese bread. That’s something that we created [in Austin].” In fact what you’re getting here isn’t actually made with the customary Minasgerais cheese that you would find in Brazil. Parmesan is used instead. Christiano believes using parmesan gives it more flavor and makes it “even better.”
There is no denying that this man is an artisanal cheese whiz. In just over a year, Christiano has developed a host of flavors including his newest release “Great Balls of Fire.” Unsurprisingly, the popularity of this Texas taste blew up.
At the end of the day, Christiano stays true to his roots as a cultural ambassador. We’re “here to provide an experience,” he insists. “The selling is a consequence of that.”
Want More? You can find Lua Brazil’s cheese bread at any of the Austin area farmers’ markets, or place orders online for delivery!
Favorite Menu Item: The original flavor is a favorite by far! It’s just a perfectly proportioned amount of bread and parmigiana cheese.