What Good is a Food Vacation if You Don’t Try the Food the Country is Famous For??

Wednesday, we decided that our food journey was lacking something traditionally Dutch. Cheese!! So we decided to pay a visit to the Dutch city that’s famous world wide for it’s cheese – Edam.

The city is by far one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. The narrow, winding cobbled streets, the quaint little houses all tucked on top of each other, the deep, dark canals ducking under wooden bridges. We parked just outside them main city and walked in, following the throngs on tourists who were there for the same reason as us – Edam (the cheese).

Inside the city there were plenty reminders of days gone by. People in traditional costume. Clogs. Beautiful canals and gardens. I really just couldn’t get enough.

Dutch canal the Netherlands Holland livebysurprise.blogspot.com

At the centre of town was the Kassmarkt. Dutch cheese farmers traditionally brought their cheeses to the market square in town to sell. In Edam, horse-drawn carriages and boats bring the farmers’ cheeses to market:

There was a procession with a brass band, followed by officials and teams of official guild cheese-porters (kaasdragers) (identified by different colored cloth on their straw hats, carrying the farmers’ cheese on barrows the same color as their hats).

These ladies followed the kassdragers. The woman on the left is married to the gentleman (a farmer) in the cap in behind – he had a cow that had produced a very large amount of milk (and cheese) and was given a silver cow as an award.


The procession concludes at Jan van Nieuwenhuizen Square where there is a reenactment of the presentation of the cheeses at the weigh house, which was built in 1778.

Buyers sample the cheeses (and share some with the audience):

The clog holding the tie together is cute, but I suspect it’s a modern addition with an eye to subliminally enticing tourists to buy them as souvenirs.

The price of the cheese is negotiated using a ritual system called handjeklap. Once the price has been agreed, the buyers and sellers clap each other’s hands and shout prices.


It reminded me a bit of this:

Once a price is agreed, the porters carry the cheese to the weighing house (Waag).

After we watched the weighing ritual, we headed into the market, and picked up some fresh produce, and, of course, a lot of cheese (which we ate for dinner with some crackers, liverwurst and pate).

We found an outdoor cafe – but couldn’t find any seats. We ended up going into the hotel and having some tea and coffee and a bit of nosh (the apfel (apple) pie here is AH-MAIZE-ING). The crust is all brown sugar goodness…

We may have also picked up a small pair of clogs…

And that was our day at the Kaasmarkt. If you’re in Holland and have the opportunity to go, I highly recommend it. This year it’s on Wednesdays starting at 10:30. It was hubs’ first time seeing the ritual – and he lived in Holland for a time as a child. He thought it was a real treat, and we’ll definitely visit again next time we come (hopefully with the whole family in tow next time).

My next blog is going to be about getting the Golden Ticket to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Or if you’ve missed a couple of posts – check out what else we’ve been doing in Holland.

Otherwise – see you Sunday! Tots Zeins!

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