Is a cheesequake
a. What Wisconsin natives yell when the earth moves under their feet?
b. A San Francisco boutique cheesecake (possibly now out of business) producer?
c. A Washington State cheeseburger? or
d. A New Jersey toll road service area?
If you answered "c", you've taken too many "How to Ace the SAT" review courses.
The correct answer, of course, is b, c and d. And thereby hangs a tale.
b. San Francisco Cheesequakes ("Cheesecakes that Rock") may have gone out of business since 2010. But back then, their web site had the most intriguing sounding cheesecakes. (not that I've ever had one, so this is not a plug.) Candycap Mushroom Cheesecake, anyone?
c. How about a Double Cheesequake at the X Earthquakes Biggest Burgers in Pullyap, Washington? (And, are they still in business?)
d. The New Jersey Cheesequake. There is my mystery.
In July of 2010, spouse and I traveled to the Jersey Shore from the Binghamton, NY area. This involved travel on the Garden State Parkway, known as the country's busiest toll road. We had been warned about the traffic and we already knew how aggressive and high speed the driving would be, so neither came as a shock. We proceeded through The Oranges and The Amboys when to our wondering eyes did appear, near exit 120....
The Cheesequake Service Area.
Spouse and I turned to each other simultaneously. What was a Cheesequake? We pondered various answers. A strange New Jersey restaurant chain? A former cheese factory that had exploded and was now a historical site? Some kind of corrupted Native American word?
Our wonder grew as we passed by a sign for Cheesequake State Park.
Turns out spouse's guess of a corrupted Native American word was correct. My spouse, however, speculated that "Cheesequake" came from the same word that Chesapeake (as in Chesapeake Bay) derived from. That apparently is not the case, according to what I was able to research back then. If my sources are correct, Chesapeake comes from a Algonquian word meaning a village "at a big river" while Cheesequake comes from a Lenape word for "upland village".
Drawing from my (too long ago) college anthropology courses, I recalled that the Lenapes (formerly known as the Delaware) are part of a much larger Native American groupage called the Algonquians. So, there may still be some truth to this speculation.
At any rate the word has nothing to do with neither cheese nor earthquakes.
Cheesequake State Park does sound fascinating. It may even help for me to learn how it is pronounced.
The service area, apart from the full service (mandatory in NJ) gas it sold for 20 cents less a gallon than Binghamton gas when we left, was not at all distinguished.
But still, it left us with a desire to go back and visit the park. Four years later, it is still a dream, but we do want to vacation locally later this summer. So...
For now - can anyone tell me how Cheesequake is pronounced? And what the word means?
I know you, my valued readers, won't let me down.