The number one most important thing in my life in France is markets. Even on vacation, I see those white tents and box trucks in the distance and it’s like a giant magnet descends from the sky and pulls me head-first toward the fruit, veg, bread and cheese.
Amsterdam’s market was much like most markets; strawberries are just starting to be sold, the vegetables are looking more healthy, and the cheese counter is mobbed. But the cheeses and breads being sold were totally different. A massive selection of breads of all shapes and sizes, and lots of delicious brown and wheat breads, which are hard to find in France. The cheese was stacked in gigantic round wheels of Gouda, among others, and offered for tastings in tiny slivers.
Emily and I browsed the Gouda selection, unsure of what to try first. Emily asked “How much does the Gouda cost?” I said “No, no; which one is the best?” So we ended up with a taste of a young, mild gouda (graskaas or jong) and an older, richer, saltier gouda (Belegen). Then I debated if I could fit an entire wheel of Gouda in my backpack.
Gouda, cow’s milk cheese
Made by: Purchased in a market in the (AWESOME) Jordaan area of Amsterdam, and made from Jersey cow’s milk. Emily, a New Jersey native, thought this was very funny.
Hails from: Gouda is the most popular and commonly known cheese from the Netherlands, named after a city in the country and pronounced gow-dah more normally than goo-dah. The name isn’t protected, though, so if you want a real cheese from the home country, you’ll have to check the label carefully.
Background: A hard orange-y cheese that is aged to delicious. There are several different levels of maturity: the older the cheese is, the stronger the taste is. Obviously I got the most mature cheese, though the mild was not bad either. Don’t be scared though! That mostly means the creamy taste is a little sharper and stronger, but it’s no smelly French cheese.
Can I eat the rind? No, but it’s easy to cut or peel.
Serve it with: Cheese plate, amazing cheese sandwiches (prosciutto panini!), salads (arugula!), and you could make a bangin’ mac and cheese, too. I imagine it must be pretty versatile.