All about cheesecake
The Greeks created it in 2000 B.C…it was served during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C…Greek brides and grooms have used it as a wedding cake recipe since time immemorial…What are we talking about? Why, cheesecake, of course!
While cheesecake has been around since ancient times, the Greek writer, Athenaeus wrote the first cheesecake recipe in 230 A.D. This recipe was pretty basic – pound the cheese until it is smooth and pasty, mix the pounded cheese in a brass pan with honey and spring wheat flour, heat the cheesecake in one mass, cool, and then serve.
When the Romans conquered Greece, they took the cheesecake recipe with them, but altered it slightly by adding crushed cheese and eggs. These ingredients were baked under a hot brick and served warm. Marcus Cato, a Roman politician, is credited for recording the oldest Roman cheesecake recipe in the first century B.C.
As Romans expanded their empire, they brought cheesecake to Europe. Different countries in Europe began experimenting with their own versions of cheesecake. The first official cookbook was printed in 1545. Even Henry VIII’s chef did his bit in popularizing and tweaking the cheesecake recipe!
However, it was not until the 18th century that cheesecake began to look like what it does today, especially in the United States. When Europeans immigrated to the America, they brought their cheesecake recipes with them.
New York dairyman, William Lawrence, accidentally invented cream cheese in 1872, when trying to recreate a soft French cheese called Neufchatel. New York-style cheesecake with its signature simple cream cheese and egg yolks, was later created by German immigrant, Arnold Reuben.
What’s really interesting, is that there are different types of cheesecakes, not just New York cheesecake. These go by names such as Pennsylvanian, Philadelphian, Farmer’s, Chicagoan, Asian, Australian, German, Italian, Dutch, Greek…the list goes on…
What’s even more interesting is that there are postage stamps available from the Austrian Postal Service that are flavoured with cheesecake. Also, the most expensive cheesecake isn’t even served at a restaurant. It is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, in New York City, and looks like a pile of Christmas presents. Called the Festive Two Stack, it is made from a triple blend of mocha-flavoured cheeses and encased in a filigreed chocolate shell. It sells for an astounding US $ 300.
Also, did you know that you can actually “drink” cheesecake? Well, you can. You can order a “cheesecake shot”, consisting of vanilla schnapps and cranberry juice at the Yassss Cheesecake Factory. You can also order a cheesecake KitKat, and buy them online.
So, cheesecake is as cosmopolitan as anything else. Different regions and nationalities in the world have their own versions of cheesecake. So, the Italians use ricotta cheese, while the Greeks used mizithra or feta. The Germans prefer cottage cheese, while the Japanese use a combination of corn starch and egg whites. There are also specialty cheesecakes that include blue cheese, seafood, spicy chillies and even tofu!
However, in spite of all the variations, cheesecake’s basic ingredients remain the same – cheese, wheat and a sweetener. This is one dessert that has literally stood the test of time. From its origin almost 4000 years ago, to its present form, it has an iconic status all over the world. Popular with all ages and in all cultures, this is one dish that satisfies many a sweet tooth. Here’s to enjoying cheesecake…always!
To order a wide variety of cheesecakes or for a reservation, do contact the Veri Peri restaurant at the Bradford in the UK at 01274721155