Cheesecakes: American vs Israeli

Shavuot, the holiday of cheesecake…err, I mean, the holiday in which the Israelites receive the Torah, is here! No, but really, it’s all about the cheesecake.

Which makes this a great time to talk about Israeli and American cheesecakes. No, they are not the same.  American cheesecake, typically a “New York Style” cheesecake, is based on American cream cheese, which is quite thick, similar to a 30% fat shemenet.  New York Style cheesecake also calls for some flour, and is baked in a water bath to achieve the thick, custard-like texture.  A New York Style cheesecake is dense and creamy, and a thin sliver is all you need ; )

Israeli cheesecake, on the other hand, tends to be lighter, more airy.  This is primarily due to the difference cheeses used.  Instead of American style cream cheese, the classic being Philadelphia cream cheese (which is not easy to find in Israel), a combination of lower fat white cheese (gevinah lavanah and shemenet) and sometimes sweetened heavy cream (shemenet metukah) are used.

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Things that come in yogurt containers but aren’t yogurt

Israeli yogurt aisle

So, you’re looking for yogurt in Israel?  Confused much?  In the U.S., there is one thing that comes in what we would call a “yogurt container” and that is yogurt.

In Israel, there are dozens of non-yogurt cheese products that come in little plastic containers.  You have yogurt, gevinah lavanah (white cheese), cottage cheese, shemenet (sour cream), gil, eishel, etc.  Each one of these may come in various fat contents, flavors, and with a myriad of toppings.

What is the difference between them? Which are the tastiest?  I set out to answer these questions with some research and a taste test.  In this first post I will cover only Tnuva products, since they can be found in any grocery store or makolet.  Of these products, I tried two types of yogurt, “Gil”, “Eishel”, “Classic Sheli (My classic)”, and three types of shemenet (sour cream).  Below are the pictures of these products with the nutritional breakdown.

not yogurt

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