Monday, August 18, 2008

Gouda's famous cheese market

Originally, I wanted to visit Friesland again with Abbe so I could reconnect with my ancestors but we also wanted to visit Ellen and Carlos in Eindhoven so, it worked out better to head down south inserted.  Since I have visited the Netherlands so many times we tried to incorporate things I haven't done with things Abbe wanted to see as well. One thing we could definitely agree on was cheeeeeeeeese! I've been to the Alkmaar market in Noord Holland but hadn't seen Gouda yet so, this was a perfect fit. 

We set out for a trip to Gouda's cheese market followed by a visit to Oudewater to see the witches weigh station and later on to Utrecht. Carlos was our travel companion for the day and we had a silly time imitating Borat all around Gouda.

What is this?
And what is this??
And this one???

I learned that the cheese market is actually only open on Thursday mornings in July, a clear sign of a true tourist trap. Naturally it was packed but despite the crowds, it was a fun sight to see. Abbe tried poffertjes, tiny pancakes covered in powered sugar which happen to be a favorite treat of mine when they're doused in rum. We just had to get cheese at the market and much to our dismay, we ended up feeling obligated to eat the cheese for the next few days! It was delicious at first but an intense struggle to finish such a big chuck of cheese. Our eyes may have deceived out stomaches in that regard.

Farmers and merchants bidding on masses of cheese.
 Fun fact: You can't buy just one wheel of cheese, they come in a set of 12!

How cute are their traditional outfits? Complete with clogs of course!

We visited the old weigh house and watched a demonstration on how to make cheese. To be honest, it kinda killed our appetite for the stuff. That and the fact that you're completely innondated with the smell, sight and taste of cheese from every direction. An addition to our nausea occurred when a 'typical' American tourist raised her hand and started asking the cheese man a question...
"In America there is a place called Wisconsin. They make cheddar cheese. do you know about that? Do you know how they make cheddar cheese?" Oy, I always feel so awkward and embarassed when Americans speak slooooowly to foreigners. Luckily, the guide's casual response to her ignorance almost put us in hysterics!

"No madam, I am from Gouda, I make GOUDA cheese. And cheddar isn't American, it's from England. And I am not English, I am Dutch so I make Dutch cheese." Zing!

Just incase you didn't get the Borat reference earlier, here's the hilarious scene we couldn't stop reproducing... 

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