As a child I subsisted on four things: chicken wings, green salad, fruit, and cream cheese on toast. In fact, I ate so much cream cheese that in high school I had a vision of my arteries growing ever more narrow as layers of Temptee coated their walls. It seemed to me that if I ate any more, I’d soon prevent blood from making its way through my system.
Cream cheese was my true love. Given that, you’d think its status as key ingredient in cheesecake would mean that I’d have loved that, too. No way. To my younger self, the idea of a confection made of cheese repulsed me. The very phrase an affront, and a perfect representation of the ways in which ideas and tastes go awry as people age. Grown-ups ate cottage cheese, for crying out loud. I was told sweet potatoes tasted like candy. Really, how could their tastes be trusted?
Cakes were to be cake-like: chocolate and frosted. They were not to be white. They were not to have a crust made of graham cracker, of which I was not a fan in any case. They were not to make the subtle sound of wet food coming apart—a sound that reminded me of the noise you hear when a person is parched but keeps talking.
When offered, I refused to try even the smallest bite.
That is, until college. There, cheesecake was always available in the dining hall. I couldn’t understand it, frankly. Who wanted it there? Who was eating it?
That question came up one evening at dinner. My friends couldn’t believe I’d never even tried it. It’s true, my dogmatism contradicted the liberal arts tenets we were there to embrace. Open your mind, child. I could not live with myself being such a hypocrite. And so, at the age of 20, I sampled my first cheesecake. It was, as you probably have known for years and years, sweet, light, and rich. Delectable. I grieved over cheesecake eating opportunities I’d lost to ignorance and recalcitrance.
Lo, these years later on this Erev Shavuot 5774, I am here to attest publicly that I like cheese cake, well enough if with caveats. It’s a tad too rich to enjoy with regularity, and I can abide its texture only every once and again. But once and again is here today. And so, with that, Chag Sameach.