The Cheesy Side of Gouda

A city in the Netherlands, known for its cheese… Have you figured it out yet? Either way, I will tell you now. That small, beautiful and historical city I live in, is called Gouda. A city, known for its delicious cheese.

Now that we are both on the same page and know which city we are talking about, I think we should go back to the beginning. Like way back. All the way to the year, 1271. I promise you, it won’t be a tedious and boring story as you had them in high school.

The Netherlands VS Holland

First things first, Gouda was the 5th city who received its official city rights which made them the most important city in Holland, at that time. “Holland?” You may ask yourself. I mean, I could just have said the Netherlands. It’s both correct, but instead, I said Holland, just to make things a bit complicated. Let me explain!

Holland may sound fine to you, but I have to correct you there. The official name for this country is the Netherlands. The confusion is understandable, since the country has been renamed quite a lot. For example: “The United Kingdom of the Netherlands.” Can I just say, that I’m happy we didn’t stick with that name because that is a lot of words to write or say. Anyways, back to the topic. So the official name for the country is the Netherlands. And here is where it starts to get a bit complicated. The Netherlands is divided into twelve provinces. Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Gelderland, Limburg, North Brabant, Zeeland, Flevoland, Utrecht, -and here comes the confusion-, North Holland and South Holland.

These two provinces are the most populated and have some of the biggest attractions like Amsterdam and the Keukenhof. Chances are if it’s Dutch and you’ve heard of it, it’s in one of the ‘Hollands.’ This also applies to Gouda, which is located in the province South Holland. It makes sense now why I said Holland instead of the Netherlands, right?

The most important reason for this city’s success was their excellent compound. Gouda had his own railway station, which was on the train connection between The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Not only was the city reachable by train, but as well via the IJssel River.

Gouda’s cheese market

Gouda had an important function for the nearby regions. Mostly because they produced cheese, nowadays known as the famous ‘Gouda cheese.’ Apart from the cheese, the city is also known for the production of ‘Stroopwafels’ (the delicious cookies we talked about during the previous post) and Gouda Candles. The production of these candles started in 1858. Throughout the following years, they have received silver and golden medals for the candles they produced.

Enough history don’t you think? Because I want to tell you a secret. The cheese, it isn’t actually made in Gouda. They make the cheese in the surrounding areas. It got the name Gouda cheese because they do sell and weigh the cheese in Goudas’ city centre.

The weighing process happens in a building called ‘De Waag’; literally translated into ‘The Scale’. Nowadays open for visitors and used as a museum. The selling of the cheese is a special something as well. By using the act called ‘handje klap’, you as a customer will try to get the cheapest price possible. We as Dutch are associated with being cheapskates, and honestly, it’s probably true for the most part of the population.

So, now you know the basic, yet important things, about Gouda. Next week, expect to learn something about the most beautiful places in this city.

See you next week, Cheese! (Did you smile? good!)

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