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After the black bean stew known as feijoada and the lime-and-cachaca caipirinha cocktail, perhaps the best known Brazilian culinary creation is pao de queijo, the little balls of cheese bread made from manioc root flour.
But since 1999, the biggest producer of frozen pao de queijo has been ... American.
Yesterday, in news long expected in cheese-bread-eating and business-press-following circles in Brazil, General Mills announced it was selling its Forno de Minas brand back to its creator, Helder Mendonca. (That's a guy, not a company.) Mendonca had originally sold the company to Pillsbury in 1999, which was acquired by General Mills soon after.
The frozen product is especially popular among Brazilians living in the United States, who don't have the luxury of picking up a fresh-made and dirt-cheap pao de queijo at the corner bakery or bar. Little did they know they were buying a product whose international headquarters were based in Minneapolis.
But that's the way things go these days; how many Americans know their six-pack of Bud is produced by what is now called Anheuser-Busch Inbev, based in Belgium but mostly run by, you got it, Brazilians.