Brazil isn’t typically seen as a go-to destination for cheese nuts. Unlike France, the British Isles, or Italy, with their centuries-old traditions, cheese in the vast majority of Brazil is an afterthought. Supermarkets typically stock plasticky, pasteurized mozzarella, the mild and uninteresting queijo prato, or sachets of grated imitation parmesan. Imported European cheese is ignored or prohibitively expensive.
The saving grace of Brazil’s cheese culture, however, comes from the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais, particularly in the regions of Serro and the Serra da Canastra, where countless cheeses are produced that can rival much of the production of the European heavyweights. Canastra and Serro cheeses, for example, are protected by the Brazilian Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan).