For the offended

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

We will eat the good cold cheesecake, browned by the sun and be men.

    A newspaperman needs to be a quick study. Not a lot of time to stand around, scratching your ear, trying to get the lay of the land. "And the burning house is ... umm ... what, that one over there? Three down, on the left? The one with all the black smoke pouring out of it, right?"
     No, pull up, bells clanging, to the scene of a story, leap off the truck before it rocks back on its frame, run a line to the nearest hydrant of information and get some quick facts on the fire.
     Sometimes, afterward, you might even smile, coiling up hose and heading back to the station, when it comes to you, finally: what in all the commotion you didn't do. 
     For instance Tuesday, when I was so excited to let you know about Eli's Cheesecake advertising on the blog that I left out a step which, in retrospect, could be seen as kinda crucial.
     The cruciality of this step only occurred to me later. Happy to have my perennial sponsor right where it belongs, my mind leapt ahead to the next logical step: stocking up on cheesecake. The boys are coming home from school in — geez, a week — and immediately after they fling their possessions across the downstairs, in one coiled throw, the way athletes hurl a discus, they will clatter into the kitchen laughing and talking law and potching their big hands together in happy expectation, then pull open the freezer where, for the first time in about five years they'll find ... umm ... nothing.
    Well, not nothing. There will be bags of frozen peas, squads of muffins, a bin of ice and various foil-wrapped meatloaves plastic containers of homemade soup and what have you.
     But no Eli's Cheesecake.
     And they will turn to me, turn on me, eyes narrowing in something that looks like hate. "You...." they'll hiss. "It was you!" Hands up, fingers spread defensively, almost cowering, I'll explain about the pandemic, and being homebound, and how tedious it all became, great big empty boyless house, and how though usually the Eli's Cheesecake is left untouched, as a beacon, an offering to the son gods, the fatted lamb awaiting their return. But well, it's cheesecake and the flesh is weak. I ate it. Ate your cheesecake. All of it. Every single bit. Half a slice at a time.
     Sorry boys.
     No, that won't fly. The only way to redress this paternal wrong, obviously, is to get more cheesecake right away and, being a full-service father, I slyly asked them, without revealing anything was missing, what kind of cheesecake they want, avoiding the "because there's none left" part. They did what I did not do, but should have: consulted the website. The younger boy's request was simple enough, and did not cause me to question my reportorial abilities: "chocolate chip cheesecake."
     Good call, who doesn't like the creamy cool perfection of cheesecake enlivened with melt-in-your-mouth morsels of delicious chocolate? Consider it done, my youngest lad o' my heart.
     Then the older boy weighed in. "Basque cheesecake" he wrote in a curt two-word reply, so as not to take time away from law studying and paper writing. I thought to myself. "What the hell is basque cheesecake?" Cheesecake that wants to break away from Spain? I couldn't imagine what Basque cheesecake could possibly be. Cheesecake with ... what? Txakoli? Cheesecake with wine and paprika? The kind of rough country cheesecake that Ernest Hemingway would purchase from a roadside stand on the long dusty drive down to Pamplona with Hadley Richardson in 1923 and lash the splintery wooden box to the trunk rack of his wire-spoke-wheeled roadster?
     So I did what—inconceivably, irresponsibly—I had not done before Tuesday's item. I went onto the Eli's Cheesecake web site that I was urging you all to go on.
     O...M...G. Hot chocolate cheesecake. Goat cheese cheesecake. A cheesecake shaped like a heart! One that looks like a deep dish pizza.
     And there, the Basque cheesecake, boldly labeled, "New item!" Here's how they describe i

Basque cheesecake
NEW! Our Basque Cheesecake is a riff on Eli's Original, inspired by the beloved dessert from Spain's Basque region. It's a little darker on top than Eli's Original, it's baked in a striking flutter of burnt parchment paper, and the inside reveals such a rich creamy texture, we think that Basque might be Eli's Spanish cousin! Uncut.
     When you read that, do you think what I thought? "I want that now!" And the great thing is, since what I generally want is plain cheesecake—yes, vanilla of me or, if you prefer classic—but this was close enough so I could get just the two cheesecakes instead of three, which would take up a bit of real estate in the old freezer, or rather, freezers, since we have two. (Oh, don't look at me like that. My mother-in-law's old olive-colored refrigerator set on cinder blocks in the basement. That doesn't make me Martha Stewart).
     I don't want to belabor the point. (Okay, the ship has sailed on that. I don't want to further belabor the point). But with the grim holidayless winter closing in, I might just return to the Eli's Cheesecake site from time to time, to probe its mysteries. Because I'm as stressed out and punchy and stupid as anyone else, and my goal right now is to survive long enough to get the vaccine and anything else is gravy.

     Mysteries of the web site. For instance, if you click on "Desserts by occasion" there are the expected "Birthday" and "Anniversary" and "Christmas" and "Hanukkah." But there is one that just leap up at me: "Sympathy." What could sympathy cheesecakes possibly be? They seem a subset of the ordinary cheesecakes: Apple Bavarian Tart, Tower of Sympathy Sampler. Nothing grief-stricken about that. The only thing vaguely redolent of loss is the Chocolate Cheesecake Heart. A dark heart for those whose hearts are broken? A cheesecake to say "I hate you"? I must ask Marc about this.
     But that's grist for a future post. Don't worry, this is just the initial burst of enthusiasm. I won't be writing about cheesecake every other day (although I could, right? I mean, it's my blog. And you pay ... remind me here ... nothing for the privilege. Correct? And you haven't even ordered your cheesecake, like I asked. Like any decent person would, after reading my stuff for all these years. So no complaining).   
     Speaking of which, look at the time. 5:08 a.m. I had better get this posted, so it'll be up and ready for you.


  1. you got me. Ordering one (or more) today. I have EGD to start my day, and i would pay for the privilege, so cheesecake is a bonus. Thanks.

  2. Dude! for some reason I woke up in an excellent mood this morning? first time in what seems like months , and what greets me? the wild cheesecake inspired rantings of someone who impossibly seems to be in an even better mood than I.

    a masterful piece and I dont even like cheesecake. though I bought some last year and plan to again this holiday season. no visitors but it hasn't been canceled has it? many have decorations up and are tra la la'ing down the street over by me.

    Between Bidens victory, a vaccine on the horizon and my own boys home from school for a couple weeks its been awhile since things were looking this far up.

    thanks for the uplifting piece. didn't seem like shilling one bit. that's ELIS' cheesecake yes?

    1. Yes! Good for you, FME! I know we have had our differences in the past, but you are officially REDEEMED in my eyes because you GET IT. Thank you. An excellent mood, I don't mind saying, quite exuberant, and not just because of recently-acquired advertising, but between Biden seeming to be on his way to becoming president and Trump loping back to Florida, one may hope, and the vaccine being almost here and the book rocking along and the newspaper enduring and the boys on their way and myself personally not being dead, yet, and it being 52 degrees yesterday and 54 predicted today well, much to be grateful for. Which is the theme of the column I'm writing tomorrow.

  3. Love you more each day. Great column once again!


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