These are the spellbindingly boring philosophical questions that have preoccupied a few food media publications over the past week. It began with an admittedly funny, self-aware piece from the folks at Eater published last week, prompting a response from TODAY’s Matt Lauer. A poll of the show's viewers overwhelmingly suggested that cheesecake is not cake. Some on the show described it as a cake-pie hybrid. Thrilling. Are you asleep yet?
Semantics, semantics. I’m someone who begs for more precision and care with the language we use to talk about food. But this debate strikes me as one of the more aggressively meaningless I've come across, right up there with “is a cheeseburger a sandwich?”
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Maybe it’s because I have no horse in this race. Keep calling it cake. Call it pie. A tart. A flan. Use your imagination. I honestly do not care. To the question of what we should call cheesecake, I answer: Call it whatever you'd like. It’s good. Just eat it. Here are 18 of our best.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.