Dutch cheeses may not be as rich and varied as, say, those of France or Switzerland, but they can certainly be delicious. Most Dutch cheeses are pale yellow, like the most famous of them, Gouda, in which differences in taste come with the varying stages of maturity: jong (young) cheese has a mild flavour, belegen (16–18 weeks old) is much tastier, while oud (mature) can be pungent and strong, with a grainy, flaky texture. The best way to eat it is as the Dutch do, in thin slices (cut with a cheese slice, or kaasschaaf) rather than large chunks. Among other names to look out for, the best known is Edam, semi-soft in texture but slightly creamier than Gouda; it’s usually shaped into balls and coated in red wax ready for export, but is not eaten much in the Netherlands. Leidse is simply a bland Gouda laced with cumin or caraway seeds; most of its flavour comes from the seeds. Maasdam is a Dutch version of Emmental or Jarlsberg, strong, creamy and full of holes, sold under brand names such as Leerdammer and Maasdammer. You’ll also find Dutch-made Emmental and Gruyère.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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