Cheesecake, thank you for being a friend…
by Alexander Quebec
Cheesecake is one of America’s most popular desserts. Hell, we even have a whole restaurant chain based.
And many a pop culture icons indulge in the creamy dessert from time to time, especially four old ladies in 1980’s Florida
But where did the creamy, dreamy treat come from? And how does the rest of the world eat it? Keep reading below to find out more
Mizithropita – Greek
So who was the first group to discover the joys of cheesecake? Credit actually goes to the Greeks, who supposedly made the first cakes as far back as 2,000 BC (to give you an idea of what the world was like then, the pyramids were already 500 years old, the last Woolly mammoth on Wrangle Island dies and the Mokoya people domesticated Cacao in what is now Guatemala). We have evidence it was given to athletes competing in the first Olympics as a source of energy
As for Modern day versions, The Greek cheesecake is made with Mizithra, either made from Goats milk, sheeps milk or both. The cakes don’t deviate too much from thier ancient predecessors when it comes to using Honey as a sweetener, although modern day versions include sugar as well. Speaking of which, learn how to make your own with this recipe here.
Good ol’ murica. We’ve all grown up with this cheesecake; however, we all face the dilemma we might come across when ordering: What’s the difference between New York Style and other styles?
New York uses sour or heavy cream, which makes the cakes easy to freeze and store for later consumption. Chicago omits these ingredients, which makes the cakes lighter and more moist. Finally, Philadelphia style is light in texture, but richer in flavor than the New York style which is not very common outside the city of Brotherly Love. There are other regional styles available, but mainly to rural areas dominated by the Amish and other Dutch-Pennsylvanian groups.
If we know our audience, we know where they can score some bomb ass cheesecake (and if you don’t mind, let us know in the comments below so we can share your tips)
Queijada – Portugal
These are considered cheesecakes since they do involve the use of cheese in their ingredients. However, make sure that when you’re experiencing food items from outside the states, you might have to leave your expectations based on our standards at the door.
Queijada’s are made with flour, sugar, egg, cheese and cinnamon. The result might look more like an egg custard tart than an actual cheesecake, but the flavor and taste are amazing; a creamy, melt in your mouth experience. Peter’s Bakery in San Jose has them, as well as other Portuguese Bakeries in and around the area.
Vatrushka – Russia & most of Eastern Europe
While things with Russia may be a bit tense (as of this article) that doesn’t mean you can’t experience this bit of Eastern European joy. Vatrushkas are made with quark, which is a cheese made with soured milk minus the rennet, and resembles cottage cheese.
The final product resembles more a pastry than an actual cake, although a sweet yeasty dough is used for the sweeter versions. Savory versions can be made as well, adding onions and other aromatics instead of the fruits and raisins in the sweeter versions.
Japanese style cheesecake
The Japanese have thier own version of cheesecake (チーズケーキ ) which tends to be lighter and fluffier than most American or even western cheesecakes. The concept of the Japanese cheesecake has actually spread throughout most of Asia, but you can head to any Andersen’s Bakery, or a Japanese supermarket chain like Mitsuwa to get your fix.
Käsekuchen – Germany
Going by other names such as Quarkkuchen, Matzkuchen, Topfenkuchen, The German style cheesecake uses freshly baked dough and quark cheese. You may notice that we keep using that word quark. Just like the Russian Vertrushka’s mentioned before, these use quark cheese.
Any high quality grocery store chain should carry the stuff, but if you can’t seem to find it, relax. It’s surprisingly easy to make at home (some home chefs report that you may need to score some unpasteurized milk however). When you’ve scored the quark, make your own käsekuchen with this recepie here.
Ostkaka – Sweden
Swedish cheesecake originates from the territory that brought unto the world IKEA aka Smaland. This cheesecake has the distinction of having to be consumed at the right temperature; too hot and the subtle, creamy flavors of almonds will not come through, too cold and the cake will be too dense and heavy.
What makes Ostkaka different from other cheesecakes is that the rennet, an enzyme found in the stomach of cows, is added to the milk; which allows the casein to coagulate, thus giving the distinctive texture and flavors of the cheesecake. Most of the time, the cheesecake is served with some sort of berry compote such as blueberry or Ligonberries, which are native to Sweden. And just like IKEA, you can make your own with this recipe here.
And with that, I’ve satisfied my curiosity, and yours I hope, with a quick look at how the world eats cheesecake. Granted, the only way to guarantee an authentic experience for one of the ones outside of the USA is to actually travel there, but if you’re craving something a bit different, or having a crisis of some kind, relax, no matter where you are in the world, someone somewhere in the world has you covered with a slice of cheesecake.