I didn't embrace cheese until my early adulthood. As a child, I despised it. In all its forms. No cheese and crackers. No grated parmesan on spaghetti. No grilled cheese sandwiches. No macaroni and cheese. I may have been the only child alive to refuse to eat Kraft Dinner. There was only one notable exception to the exclusion of cheese from my life. Pizza. Mozzarella cheese on pizza was acceptable. Who, after all, could dislike pizza?
And then, there came a second exception.
My mother was an avid cook and baker. And therefore, she was always looking for new recipes to try. Her recipe book was filled with clippings from newspapers and magazines. And whenever she tasted something especially delicious at a friend or relative's home, she immediately requested the recipe.
And so it was that cheesecake first entered my life.
This wasn't a traditional cheesecake recipe. More of a "convenience" cheesecake recipe. In the spirit of the times, it incorporated packaged dessert foods and was likely created and distributed by one of the companies producing these in an effort to sell more of its products. But no matter. My mother had liked what she tasted and it had made its way into our home.
At first. I was appalled. Cheese . . . in a cake? Who could conceive of such a thing? But there was also Jello. Lemon Jello. And Dream Whip. And in the end, I believe these are what swayed me. What convinced me to look past the cheese. Perhaps, I hoped, the Jello and Dream Whip would combine forces to overpower it. So I tasted it. And it was delicious. Cream cheese and all. It quickly became one of my favourite desserts. Requested on every dessert occasion. It changed my opinion of cheese, or at least, my opinion of cream cheese. Which now joined mozzarella on the acceptable end of the cheese spectrum. And it served as a gateway to other, more cream cheese intensive, cheesecakes.
But that first Jello cheesecake has always held a special place in my heart. It heralded the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
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