The warmth of the sun glistened its rays through the open window. Stretching out from front paw to back, AJ extended himself, grasping the shaggy beige carpet with his front paws. The opened patio door let in gusts of a cool breeze from newly fall air lightly whisping through his long black and grey coat. Alex was scrambling in the kitchen, unloading bags of groceries from large brown paper bags, speedily spreading out items throughout the countertops.
AJ lifted himself from his warm napping place and ventured to the kitchen to investigate his companion’s angst.
“Mew. Mew. Mew. Mew.” AJ chatted.
Alex was holding the refrigerator door open with one foot while simultaneously grabbing the carton of milk and cardboard trey of fresh eggs, placing them inside. Looking over toward AJ who was standing as firm as a statue at the end of the counter, his food and water bowl behind him, still full.
“AJ! You have food and water, what are you crying about?” Alex demanded, and then instantly smiled at his slow blink.
“This Plakous has to be perfect! She has to know that I’m more than just a computer geek. I can bake! I’ve never baked before, but I make software for Christ’s sake. How hard could it be?” Alex looked at the still cat, who seemed less than amused.
There was a stack of heavy books in the corner of the kitchen: Cooking for Dummies, Greek Cuisine, Cooking to Impress, Ancient Desserts. Alex lifted the top book and placed it on the counter, abruptly opening it to a page that was marked by a blue tab; the cover smacked onto the counter top, jolting AJ from his daydream.
“Plakous, meaning flat, is what is known as the original cheesecake, and is believed to date back to ancient Greece where it is said that it was served to athletes during the first Olympic games held in 776 B.C.,” Alex read aloud.
“Wow, that’s some serious history. I think she’s gonna love that I know history. And, I can bake. I hope. How hard could it be?”
“Okay, flour, check.”
“Light olive oil, check.”
“Salt, yes, I’ve got that, I’ve got water obviously.”
“Bay leaves, okay, got that.”
“Ricotta cheese, check.”
“Raw honey. Raw? Do I have raw honey? What the hell is the difference?”
Alex snapped away from the book and rummaged for the honey.
“It just says honey! How the hell….”
A familiar graze of his furry coat brushed up against Alex’s leg.
“Mowwoo. Mowooo. Mowoo.” AJ cried with soft vibrations of his purr.
“AJ, I can’t pet you right now. I have to make this cake and make it perfectly!”
As if understanding his companion’s plea, he slowly stepped to the end of the cabinet.
“It’s fine. Honey’s honey.”
“I’m not gonna freak out.”
Reading aloud again,
“this popular ancient dish was said to have been enjoyed by the famous rhetorician, Athenaeus, who extolled its virtues.”
“Wow. She’s really going to love this; being from Greece and all. Alright! Let’s do this!”
Alex exclaimed while AJ curled his front paw under his chin and began to take a morning snooze. Alex started from the top of the recipe and methodically read each word, line by line, insisting the recipe be completed exactly as the ancient Greeks must have done. The dough was mixed with the four and water and separated into five pieced that were rolled out thinly. Flour sprinkled onto the hard wood floor and throughout the counter tops, Alex occasionally swearing its existence, cursing bakers who insist on doing this relentless chore day in and day out, but imagined how the Greeks must have cooked in the open air with a hot burning wood oven made from stone and earth, passionately making this for their guests. Each layer of dough was intensely brushed with the olive oil, and slowly put in the preheated oven to dry for only ten minutes per layer. After they were all dried, a layer was placed into a heavily greased round baking dish. The recipe seemed simply and strange at the same time. Alex thought the ancient Greeks must have used what they grew, but was unsure of how the bay leaves were going to make the cake taste. But nevertheless, Alex reluctantly layered the dry bay leaves on top of the dough, and then ricotta cheese mixed with honey was spooned onto into the dish and then a single layer of dough placed carefully over the top.
“So far so good, AJ!”
Alex exclaimed to the sleeping cat, who opened his eyes and smelled the air.
Alex repeated the steps of spooning the cheese and then layering the dough, until the final layer of dough was placed on the top. After precisely brushing oil to the top of the cake Alex rejoiced in enthusiasm.
“Alright! Now its gotta cook for 30 minutes. The oven is already heated to three-hundred and fifty degrees. Yes!”
After placing the cake in the oven, Alex crouched down on the floor, brushing AJ’s soft coat and tickling the bottom of his chin. After only moments, sweetness filled the air, prompting AJ to smack his mouth as if it were parched.
Sitting on the kitchen floor with the book open to recipes, Alex read through different pages while giving AJ his much-wanted petting.
All these other cheesecakes have cream cheese and that’s what people are used to eating.
“This cake is going to impress. It ‘aint no ordinary cheesecake, right AJ!”
Beeep beeep beep…
The alarm of the timer rang out suddenly, startling them both.
Alex stood up from the floor in excitement, surprised at how quickly it was cooked. With the oven light on, the cake looked perfectly golden, just like the recipe book. Alex gradually opened the oven door. A gently steam of warm cheese and pastry puffed into the air. Its exquisite history filling the room with knowledge and question. Alex grabbed the pot holders on the counter and reached in, firmly gripping both sides of the pan. It seemed heavier than it was putting it in. It was hot and sizzling and the heat was bleeding through the thin pot holders. Alex stepped back and twisted to the side when…
“AAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!” AJ screamed.
His tail interfering right underneath Alex’s foot, and the grip of the pan was instantly lost, and in what looked like slow motion, fell to the hardwood floor.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!” Alex cried. “No! No! No! Damnit AJ!”
The cake lie face down on the floor. Hot cheese splattered across the kitchen, on the cabinets, with warm honey and flaky crust strewed all over the floor. Alex slid to the floor, sobbing with greif.
“What am I gonna do now? Dammit!” Alex sniffled through the tears, sobbing with loss and frustration.
“Sluurp sluurrp sluurrp.”
Alex’s eyes opened through the tears and looked up to see AJ, licking what was now quite literally, cheese plakous on the ground.
She watched her beloved companion enjoying dessert from the floor. With her pointer finger she scooped a piece and popped it in her mouth.
“Oooohhh! That’s pretty good!!!” Alex rejoiced, petting her sweet cat on the head, forgiving her little shadow that was always by her side.
“Well, I guess you can have this one and I’ll make another one! Plakous for everyone!”