Submitted Date 12/17/2018

Around the holidays, no one could get enough of it. It was as if she was the only one who knew how to make a cheesecake. 

Her cheesecakes appeared unpretentious as if she made no effort at all. While some sort of fruit or topping decorates other cakes, her cheesecake looked mundane, but it was anything but. It was simply plain like my mother, and everyone loved it. Grandma always told us, “Food tastes better when you prepare it with your hands and fingers.”

This is probably why the crust was always the best part. It was never exactly even looking which I always thought was my fault. If she could not find the crumbs already made, my mother had me smash whole graham cracker cookies in a ziplock bag. I still love that sound. Cruk Cruk Cruk!

Then, I waited impatiently until my mother transferred the crumb mixture into the springform pan. Whenever I tried doing it myself, she’d remind me “You’ll just make a mess.” Once the crumbs were in the pan, mom let me take over again. Using my fingers, I pressed down on what felt like crunching sand as small mountains hugged my fingers, tickling their tips. “That’s enough,” she interrupted.

For the next ten minutes, the crust hardened in the oven at 325 degrees. “Let’s make the cake now.” Mom collected the only four ingredients she ever put in her cheesecake. Three packages of cream cheese. Three eggs. ¾ cup of sugar. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. She always beat the sugar into the cream cheese first. Then, I would hand her one egg at a time to beat in. She would always say, “You can never add all the eggs at once.” I never understood why. I simply followed her advice as if it was God’s word. Last, we added the vanilla extract for flavor. As the cake baked for forty minutes or so, my mother paced back and forth as impatiently as I felt while we prepared it.

It was the relentless crack in the middle. My mother could never figure it out much as she could never figure out my father. Just as the cake had a mind of its own, so did my father.

Whenever he came home from work, he always asked the same question: “Where’s my dinner?” My father never seemed to say anything else. Not even an “I love you” or “How was your day?” I at least don't remember otherwise. To me, he only cared about one thing - his dinner. My mother did not seem to mind for the longest time. As I heard time and time again from both my mom and grandmother, “the way to a man’s heart is through his belly.”

Even though I consciously knew there was more to falling in love, I still wanted to get rid of the crack in the middle.

Over the years, I have strived to perfect my mother’s cheesecake along my travels throughout Asia. Maybe it is my subconscious making me think the only way to truly have a happy-home is to be the perfect baker, with the smell of freshly baked goods lingering in the air when my husband comes home.

While living in Saudi Arabia, I met a man who baked 500 cheesecakes in Spain a week. We lived close by on the Diplomatic Quarter and shared a love for the culinary arts. It was rare to find someone who loved cooking as much as me, especially a man. In fact, I must admit he loved it way more than me.

While living in Spain, he was a baker at a Barcelonan restaurant that only sold 100 cheesecakes a week before he started. When he made his batch, his boss called him to tell him “They sold out in three days.” People loved his cheesecakes so much that the restaurant sold 500 of them in a week on average.  

I could not help but ask “Do your cheesecakes ever crack?”

“No,” he replied. “Don’t take the cake out of the oven when it is done. Turn the oven off and let the cake sit until it cools off.”

“Wouldn’t it keep cooking though?”

“Sometimes you need to just let things sit for a while. This prevents the cake from collapsing.”

If only my mother was here, I would tell her I finally figured out the trick.


Photo by Tina Guina on Unsplash


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  • Robert Mitton 4 years, 9 months ago

    I just now found your cheesecake story. We have the opposite opinions on cheesecake.

  • Robert Mitton 4 years, 9 months ago

    I just now found your cheesecake story. We have the opposite opinions on cheesecake.