Cheese has been sold on Alkmaar’s main square since the 1300s, and although it’s no longer a serious commercial concern, the kaasmarkt (cheese market; Fri 10am–12.30pm, from the first Friday in April to the first Friday in Sept) continues to pull the crowds – so get there early if you want a good view. The ceremony starts with the buyers sniffing, crumbling, and finally tasting each cheese, followed by intensive bartering. Once a deal has been concluded, the cheeses – golden discs of Gouda mainly, laid out in rows and piles on the square – are borne away on ornamental carriers by groups of four porters (kaasdragers) for weighing. The porters wear white trousers and shirt plus a black hat whose coloured bands – green, blue, red or yellow – represent the four companies that comprise the cheese porters’ guild. Payment for the cheeses, tradition has it, takes place in the cafés around the square.
Show Related Ebooks Hide Related Ebooks