Today, cheesecake is known as being an excellent dessert, for many occasions. It has many favorable aspects: it is easy to make, filling, and can be served many ways. Not only that, but there is a huge variety of types of cheesecakes to choose from. Simple cheesecakes like the New York cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, and the basic fruit cheesecake are sure to meet your dessert needs. There are also more creative, exciting cheesecakes like the tiramisu cheesecake, cinnamon swirl, turtle, and one of my favorites, white chocolate mocha cheesecakes. With all the ease of making a cheesecake and the varieties out there, it is easy to see why cheesecake has become so popular today in our culture. What many people don’t know is that this dessert was just as popular at the time it was originally created, even been offered to appease the gods.

The history of the cheesecake is quite an exciting one. Sure it has never won any noble peace prizes, or brought peace to a country, but it nonetheless had its role throughout history. We can trace cheesecake back over 2000 years. It was originally a food made by the Ancient Greeks. We do not know what these cheesecakes had been called at that time, but we do know they were served to Olympians in the original Olympic games held in 776 BC on the Isle of Delos. They were served in smaller sizes than the cheesecakes of today, and were seen as a good source of energy for athletes who needed to be replenished.

When the Romans conquered ancient Greece, aspects of the culture, such as food, were also conquered. The Roman took the dessert, changed the name to placenta, and elevated the dessert to the level of “food for the gods.”

The earliest manuscript we have for the Roman placenta was written in the first century B.C. by the Roman politician Marcus Porcius Cato. In his treatise on agriculture, Cato included a simple recipe of how cheesecake was to be made:

Libum to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.

In the Roman culture, offerings were given to household and temple gods to appease them and ask for their blessings. Roman temple gods were often gods like Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, who had their own temples where sacrifices were made. Household gods included on the likes of Janus and Vesta, who guarded the door and hearth, the Lares, who protected the field and house, Pales, who watched over the the pasture, Saturn, controlled the sowing, Ceres, the watcher of the growth of the grain, Pomona, who dealt with fruit, and Consus and Ops, the overseers of the harvest. The Romans felt their success relied solely on the gods. Even the god of gods Jupiter, the ruler of the gods, was honored for the aid his rains might give to the farms and vineyards. The cheesecake that we eat today, was no ordinary food for the Romans, It was very important to the them, who felt that with the use of this dessert they could appease their gods into helping them be more successful.

To learn more about this “food of the gods” and see recipes: visit

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