Somewhere around 150 B.C., our good friend Cato the Elder issued a very long book length missive on cheesecake. Well, not exactly. The complete work, De Agricultura, was about farming and working the land. Cheesecake, which wasn’t called cheesecake at the time, was slipped in their for good measure. He made it by two different methods as an offering to his gods. Apparently, is higher ups didn’t have a problem with cellulite, but they had excellent taste.
So…what exactly IS cheesecake?
According to our esteemed friends at Merriam-Webster, McGraw-Hill and Funk & Wagnalls, cheesecake has two meanings. The original utterance of the word occurred somewhere between 1400-1450, with the second meaning cooked up somewhere in the early 1930s.
1. Also, cheese cake . a cake having a firm custardlike texture, made with cream cheese, cottage cheese, or both, and sometimes topped with a jamlike fruit mixture.
2. Informal . Also called leg art. photographs featuring scantily clothed attractive women.
My associates would beg to differ.
A: Is Cheesecake really a pie? It fits in a pie pan.
B: No. It doesn’t have fruit in it.
A: I put fruit on mine.
B: Maybe its more like creme brulee that didn’t quite make it.
I doubt if Romulus and Remus were dipping their spatulas into a tub of Philly. Recipes evolve. But in our effort to make things lighter and less fattening, is the item really the item any more, or does it become something new? Can light cottage cheese in a cracker crust really be considered a close kin of Cato’s version, which started out with 2 whole pounds of cheese? Arteries are better for the innovation, but what can we call it now?