We have finally reached the most beautiful part of fall in the Northeast; the leaves are changing to deep golds and bright reds, pumpkins are carved, and autumnal winds sweep across the city. However, with the impending winter chill coming, some of you may be dreaming about exotic getaways. If you are looking for the feeling of something different and fresh but lack the resources to leave the four square mile city of Somerville, then the Panificadora Modelo Bakery really delivers.
Specializing in Brazilian baked goods and dinner foods, the Modelo Bakery is the best way to revive yourself with something new. Nestled within a Brazilian enclave on the corner of Medford Street and Lowell Street in Magoun Square, this bakery boasts authentic flavors, providing Brazilians with a taste of home and Americans with a unique experience. The Modelo Bakery has a triangular-like shape to it on the inside, which gives the impression of a large amount of baked goods, given the little amount of space. The small marble tables are dispersed amongst the remaining space, and the freshly baked bread smell hangs in the air, making it seem all the more welcoming.
The presence of Brazil is inescapable; apart from the ethnic food, there is a Brazilian TV station playing in the background and a stand of Brazilian newspapers in the corner. When I walked in, I was greeted with an “olá” from the women behind the counter, but when I responded back with my shy American “hi,” they quickly shifted gears and began speaking to me in English. They took me on a miniature tour through all of their baked goods, and offered me a taste of each treat before I decided what to get.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Joe De Souza, the owner of Panificadora Modelo Bakeries (there is another one in Everett, MA). Joe, who hails from Minas Gerais, Brazil, acquired this business five years ago and has truly made it his own. Father of five, Joe recognizes the importance of family and community, and hopes to provide for his fellow Brazilians and try to bring “what people miss ” from Brazil here to Somerville.
Joe prides himself on presenting baked goods exactly like those found in Brazil. This includes pão de queijo, a restaurant favorite here in Somerville. This literally translates to “cheese bread,” but is much more than cheese-flavored bread. The cheese and the dough form a perfect bond, so that the cheese taste and the bread work together in perfect harmony. The result is an orange-sized round piece of bread; warm, chewy, and different from typical American flavors.
Another ingredient typical in Brazil cooking is the guava fruit, which adds a sweet zing to many of the treats behind the counter. Guava plants are abundant in Brazil, which is the reason for their commonplace in Brazilian pastries, drinks, and desserts. Joe proves his cultural integrity and dedication to Brazilian cuisine with his prevalent use of this ingredient; it is very uncommon in the United States, so he needs to either import it from abroad or ship it from the Southern U.S.
The “Bakery” part in the name of this business slightly belies its true nature as a one-stop shop for Brazilian cuisine; apart from the baked goods, Modelo Bakery offers quintessential Brazilian lunches and dinners, such as different types of coxinha (stuffed fried dough with chicken), cachorrão (Brazilian hotdogs), and smoothies with the highly coveted açaí berry. Modelo is a place sought after by foodies looking for a new flavor yet also a place many people visit daily; it is a welcoming atmosphere where anyone, Brazilian or otherwise, can meet a friend for a cup of café and enjoy one another’s company.