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Gouda, the cheese capital of the Netherlands

The Dutch, of course, are famous cheese lovers. Jan Kaas («Ivan-Syr») — so many centuries ago neighbors christened the local people — the Belgians and the Germans. However, the inhabitants of the Netherlands see nothing offensive in this nickname.

Their cheese is not just one of the most important products, it is, one can say, a part of national identity.

And Gouda is almost synonymous with cheese in general.

To say that the Dutch prefer Gouda is to greatly simplify the status quo.

Gouda heads are conveniently stored and transported, they are the embodiment of practicality, and this, according to Dutch notions, is almost the main virtue.

It is no coincidence that the locals never complained about soft and moldy cheeses, and the strong-smelling limburger was not universally distributed in Holland. Whether the Gouda business is almost a national currency: at one time the Dutch sailors paid port taxes with the heads of this cheese.

So it turned out that in the Netherlands Gouda is at least half of all cheeses (another quarter is edam, and all other cheeses fall to the remaining share).

Such uniformity does not at all indicate the scarcity of the Dutch diet. After all, Gouda is the most diverse — young, medium-aged, old and even very old: hard, like parmejano.

There is a gouda with cumin and smoked gouda with a brown crust, it is especially good with beer.

For each head, the gaudas put a special stamp — the main evidence of its quality. The stamp indicates the country of origin (Netherlands), the name of the cheese, the mass fraction of fat in the dry matter and the serial number.

Will be at the cheese fair — note: thanks to the stamp can be distinguished farmer Gouda (Goudse Boerenkaas) from industrial.

On the farm — a rectangular stamp, on the factory — round.

Another difference: on the farm cheese — the natural cheese crust, on the industrial — very often paraffin shell.

Interestingly, it was Gouda cheese that gave the name to the city, and not vice versa. However, if everything is in order, then at first there was a river — Gouda.

And on its coasts there were villages where the peasants made quite fat and nutritious dark yellow cheese from cow’s milk — and in each place they had their own, completely original recipe.

In one of these villages, a large market was formed, where cheeses were brought from all over the area.

It was this place with the market that turned in 1272, by decree of the count of the Dutch and Zeeland Floris V, into the city of Gouda.

Market in Gouda (Goudse kaasmarkt) since those idyllic times, of course, has changed a lot.

Nowadays, cheese trays and shops are lined up in the summer on Thursdays from ten to noon in the Market Square (Markt) around the town hall (Stadhuis). Manufacturers of Gouda from almost the whole country come here. Cheeses deliver branded cars of bright colors.

It is probably difficult to meet the twelve-kilogram heads now, but small ones per half a kilo, no more — it is always please, especially for numerous tourists.

At one time, cheese makers and cheese merchants weighed cheese heads brought to Gouda in the Weight Chamber. (Waag). City authorities had to determine the amount that the merchant paid to the treasury of the city, and ordinary buyers just to check his honesty.

In the old days, there was such an institution for weighing goods in every trade city.

Cheese Weight Chamber in Gouda — one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands. Built in 1668 by the famous architect Peter Post (among his projects is the royal palace in The Hague), it stands right there on the Market Square.

This year, the weight chamber reopened after restoration, sponsored by the cheesemaking company. Uniekaas. Now in the ward is located in Museum of Cheese and Traditional Crafts, where you can see the old scales and cheese presses, watch a video about the production of gauda. The facade of the building is decorated with a curious bas-relief on which the rogue attendant of the weighing chamber holds the scales with his foot.

The original of the ancient bas-relief, darkened by time, is kept inside the chamber, and on the facade is a new modern copy.

After a test purchase of gauda and inspection of the «cheese» sights of the city, the tourist will still have a lot of time.

What else to see in Gouda?

  • In addition to the weight chamber, Market Square(Markt) is medieval town hall(Stadhuis). The most beautiful Gothic building built in the XV century.
  • Above the city towers the bulk of the Gothic St. John’s Cathedral(Sint Janskerk). This is the longest temple in the Netherlands (123 meters). Inside it is worth exploring the huge stained glass windows, most of which were made in the 16th century.
  • There are several gothic temples and chapels in the city. On the wall of one of them — Chapel of St. Agnes(Agnietenkapel) — you will see a bas-relief with the image of a cheese head. The chapel is located directly behind the weight chamber, on Nieuwe markt; there is Farmershe monument with head Gouda in hand.
  • Once as famous as cheese were Gaud candles. Now, a candle ritual is held once a year in Gouda: at nightfall, the entire city center is lit only with candles (only one and a half thousand go to the town hall alone!) However, this event takes place in December. But in one of the old candle shops (for example, «‘t Keldertje«In the alley Achter de kerk near the Cathedral of St. John), you can go at any time of the year.
  • On the same Achter de kerk in the building of the city hospital of the XIV century Katharina Shelter(Catharina Gasthuis) the museum complex is located MuseumgoudA, in which you will see paintings by Jan Steen and Ferdinand Bol, surgical instruments of the 18th century and a collection of long white tubes from a local factory Goedewaagen. These are tubes with a secret: over time they darken from soot, and some drawing appears on them, which the buyer didn’t even suspect.
  • Like most cities in the Netherlands, Gouda is cut by canals. In the tourist office of the city (Tourist Information Office) boat trips on the canals of Gouda and the surrounding lakes can be booked.

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