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Tofu Cream Cheese Is My Secret Shame

When I was growing up in Toronto, Sunday was the best meal day of the week. Early in the morning, my father would go to Harbord Bakery and get kaiser rolls, bagels, sticky buns, a coffee cake and maybe even a few buffalo buns. Then he would head north to Eglinton Avenue to Daiter’s Dairy to get fresh cream cheese. (This was the 70s; the good Jewish foodstuffs were spread far and wide, and bagels were still considered an exotic food).

By the time us four children were awake, scrambled eggs would be cooking and the table packed with baked goods. To this day, I have my father’s habit of buying enough food for at least 10 people, regardless of how many I’m actually feeding.

The best was the fresh cream cheese. In fact, I didn’t know there was another type until I went off to University and had to provide my own sustenance. Philadelphia brand has nothing on the fresh stuff, but it certainly works well in eggs, and is easy on the wallet.

Early in my relationship with Jon, my husband, I recreated the delightful Sunday breakfasts I loved so much. I would buy fresh cream cheese (so accessible in New York!) and dollop it freely in the scrambled eggs and give my gluten-free toast a heavy schmear. (Yeah, I have a wheat thing. I can’t talk about bagels, and you can’t make me.) But alas, over time, it became apparent that Jon and dairy could not be friends. Changes would have to be made.

I could still eat cream cheese, but that just seems cruel. Sunday breakfast is about sharing the food, and not having two separate meals. So that’s how I found myself shopping for tofu cream cheese. I was embarrassed and ashamed. My father’s voice echoed through my head “tofu cream cheese? Is that even a food?” Oy. The guilt.

We went through several brands before we found our current favorite, All Natural. It’s about as good as you’re going to get for a fake spread. Oh, and it’s kosher! It makes the eggs fluffy, and it gives off a good flavor. No, it’s not the same. Then again, neither am I.

Everyone says marriage is all about sacrifice. I was thinking more along the lines of giving up space in the bathroom, and having to share the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. I did not think for a moment it would involve cream cheese. But love is a powerful force. He eats gluten-free pasta, and I eat tofu cream cheese. Our marriage is strong and our stomachs are calm. I just pray that neither of us develop any type of issue with chopped liver.

Naomi Major is a writer living in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan. You can find more of her writing at

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