One upon a time (actually toward the end of the 19th Century) in the small city of Limeira, Brazil, lived a princess named Isabel. She was normally called simply Princess Isabel, though her real name was Princess Imperial Isabel Cristina Leopoldina Augusta Micaela Gabriela Rafaela Gonzaga. She was their heir to the Brazilian throne, and was married to a European count,Gaston d’Orléans, Count of Eu. The couple lived on an estate called Morro Azul (Blue Hill) in this small town.
The count and the princess had four sons. One of the boys was kept out of public view, as he suffered from mental illness. This young prince refused to eat anything other than chicken thighs (coxa is the Portuguese word for thigh, andcoxinha means “little thigh.”) , Because he was a prince, the boy’s strange dietary habits were indulged and the cook of the estate prepared chicken thighs daily for him.
One fine day, the cook found that she didn’t have any chicken thighs for the boy, though there was plenty of chicken meat left over from the previous day’s feast. In desperation, she shredded some left-over chicken meat, wrapped it in a ball of dough and then shaped the dough into the form of a chicken thigh. She breaded the concoction and fried it, then presented it to the young prince. She told him that it was a special little thigh (coxinha) fit only for a prince. He so loved the treat that from that day forward his diet changed from real chicken thighs to his cook’s coxinha. He would eat nothing else.
Soon, other family members began to demand these coxinhas, and word spread throughout Limeira about the cook’s marvelous invention. The fame of the coxinha grew and grew, and eventually its fame and its recipe traveled all throughout the country. And everyone lived happily every after (while snacking on coxinhas, of course).