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The history of cheesecake, the dessert of the Olympians

The cheesecake she’s not american is Greek. We are not crazy and we know very well that its name is English but in fact the “cheesecake” is one of the oldest sweets that exist and have their roots inAncient Greece. We all associate this dessert with American movies and TV series but only because we have short memories. Aristotle’s Greece and Imperial Rome are the places where history of cheesecake. After all, one of the most popular traditional Italian desserts is a “cheesecake” even though we never talk about it in these terms: technically the Sicilian cassata is a cheesecake. Let’s see the history and where was born the cheesecake, the famous “cake of the Olympians”.

What is cheesecake

Let’s first give a definition to this exquisite cake: the original version expects it to be a cold dessert with a base on which rests a layer of cheese and another ingredient. Today, the base usually consists of crumbled cookies and mixed with egg yolk or butter, or dipped in coffee, syrups, liqueurs. There are many recipes for cheesecakes: there are cheesecakes with sponge cake and others with shortcrust pastry; for cheeses, the emphasis is on soft, spreadable cheeses such as ricotta or fromage blanc. There are also versions of cooked cheesecake but these are reinterpretations of the traditional dish, very far from this simple and delicious recipe invented by the Greeks.

The history of cheesecake, the cake of Olympians

Let’s dive into the maze of historical archives: the first literary reference on a cheesecake, it is Greek and is attributed to Egimio, author of one of the first cookbooks in history. The Greek “cook” writes the “Plakountopoiikón sýngramma”, a kind of text on the art of making cakes with cheese. Then, as today people have always liked to play with sweets, it would be curious to understand how many actually knew how to read this text.

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This news reaches us by side roads or thanks to Callimaco, an ancient Greek poet and philologist of the Hellenistic era. According to the author of Chileans this book would be used many times by artisans to create gods invigorating sweets be used for athletes during Olympic Games. The first cheesecakes are made from sheep cheese and honeya recipe that was later taken up and also improved by the Romans: they invented the “placenta“, a kind of “iced biscuit” with two discs of dough that embrace fresh cheese.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, traces of this dessert are lost so it is not known how it was transmitted tradition come to the present day. The only thing we know is that it’s a type of dessert known worldwide. How it arrived in each part of the globe, however, remains a mystery. Cheesecake is so uniform across cultures around the world that it was chosen as a “sweet symbol” by international Esperanto movement.

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Written traces of cheesecake can only be found in 1872 thanks to an entrepreneur who would change world gastronomy forever: James L. Kraft fall in love with Neufchatel, a famous French cheese, and try to replicate it in New York with expert cheesemakers. He fails and only gets one semi-liquid cheese similar to ricotta, the taste is good and he decides to sell it anyway. Thanks to this intuition, Kraft founded one of the greatest industrial empires of all time. He himself wrote the first “modern” cheesecake recipe: a biscuit base and this cheese spread on the surface, which is why we still associate the dessert with the Anglo-Saxon world and precisely with this type of cheese, but in reality we ate cheesecake long before Americans.

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