Tuesday, April 27, 2010

INGREDIENTS - Catupiry Cheese

One of the perils of creating a product that is tremendously successful is that the trademarked name of the product becomes a generic name for anything that resembles or imitates the product, and the trademark is lost. That is exactly what happened to Cellophane (which became cellophane), Thermos (which became thermos) and what is currently happening to Google and FedEx.

I've just discovered that this same process happens in Brazil, and that a type of cheese that I often see in recipes and on restaurant menus is not, in fact, a type of cheese at all, but rather a trademarked product name the use of which is legally restricted in theory to the owner of the trademark. The cheese is called Catupiry® , a rich and smooth cream cheese with a flavor that recalls Brie or Camembert. Brazilian cookbooks and online recipe sites are full of recipes for dishes such as "frango ao catupiry" or "carne de sol ao catupiry", none of which capitalize the word catupiry nor acknowledge that catupiry is a brand of cheese, not a type of cheese.

Catupiry, the trademarked brand that is, was developed in 1911 by  Mário e Isaíra Silvestrini, an Italian immigrant couple, in Lambari, Minas Gerais. They chose the name Catupiry because it means "excellent" in the Tupi-Guarani language of certain Brazilian Indian tribes. In 1934 production was moved to the city of São Paulo. Up to the present the exact recipe for Catupiry has remained a secret, though it is clear that Catupiry cheese is a processed cheese, like all cream cheeses.

Catupiry was traditionally packaged in round, wooden boxes, very similar to the boxes in which one buys Brie or Camembert cheese, but in the 1990s the wooden box was replaced by plastic, and today Catupiry is available not only in these plastic boxes, but in everything from squeeze tubes to gallon buckets.

Although a commercial product, Catupiry has been taken to heart by the Brazilian public, and a dish or recipe that contains Catupiry has a certain cachet that other cream cheeses can't duplicate. São Paulo, which considers its pizzas better than anywhere else in the world, considers "pizza ao catupiry" one of the summits of the pizza-making art.


  1. To make it to taste like it , mix half meunster cheese and cream cheese and melt together in a sauce pan if needed add a little milk to soften melt while continuously stirring, excellent taste when you can't buy the real stuff.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I'm sure many Brazilians living around the world will thank you for it. There's nothing worse than not being able to source a favorite food from home when living far away.