1) Old Holland takes cheese really seriously

Cheese is made (and consumed!) all over the Netherlands, but in Old Holland, they are really sticking to the traditions. Old-fashioned cheese dairies, tasting rooms, strange cheese-related customs – you’ll find all of that and more. And of course, Edamer cheese comes from the town of Edam, right in the heart of Old Holland. The region is also the place to be for cheese shopping, because…

2) Old Holland has whole markets dedicated to cheese

The Netherlands still has five traditional cheese markets in Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn, Gouda and Woerden. The markets in Gouda and Woerden are functioning trading centres, but the others put on impressive demonstrations with people decked out in old-fashioned garb – white suits! Straw hats! – transporting huge wheels of cheese on wooden barrows, en route to the cheese weighing ceremony. Yes, there is an actual ceremony for it, because…

3) There are weird, age-old rituals for buying cheese  

The workers at the cheese markets are still organised in guilds. One of the traditional rituals you’ll witness at a cheese market is the sampling of the cheeses on offer, followed by the negotiation of the price, during which buyers and sellers clap each others’ hands while shouting the proposed amounts until an agreement is reached. Thankfully, as a regular visitor you will feel much less pressure. And, best of all…

4) You can try as much as you like

There are plenty of tasting rooms in Old Holland, where you can munch yourself through a wide variety of cheeses to make sure you buy the best of the best. Proper cheese shops also usually let customers sample the goods on offer. This is handy, as…

De Simonehoeve cheese tasting Old Holland

Image credit: De Simonehoeve

5) There is a LOT of choice

As every cheese lover knows, cheese doesn’t only come in many types, brands and regional varieties, but it’s also the age of a cheese that determines its taste. Young cheese is milder, while mature cheese is generally more pungent and often nuttier in taste. In the Netherlands, cheese (for example Gouda) is categorised by how long it has been aged: jong (1 month), belegen (4 months), oud (10 months) and overjarig (1 year or more). Would you like to know more about the cheese-making process? No problem, because…

6) They love to show you how it’s made

As well as markets, tasting rooms and specialised shops, Old Holland has plenty of cheese dairies that you can visit to find out how cheese is made. Some, like the De Simonehoeve cheese farm, keep all kinds of traditional, artisan crafts alive, so you can learn how clogs are made, too! You can’t really get more Dutch than that. 

Cheese Alkmaar market canal Cris Toala Olivares

 Image credit: Cris Toala Olivares