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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in the Netherlands Series at DutchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Dutch holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22, Cheese market. In Dutch, it's called [kaasmarkt].
Each year, the Alkmaar cheese market, or [kaasmarkt] in Dutch, is held from the first Friday in April through the first Friday in September. It takes place in Alkmaar and it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world who come to check out the wide variety of Dutch cheeses. During the festival, you will see quite an unusual site - a town square full of cheese!
In this lesson, you’ll learn about the world-renowned Dutch cheese market in Alkmaar!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Where does the concept of sampling come from?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In 1365, there was only a single cheese scale in all of Alkmaar. This grew to four by 1612, and as time went on, Alkmaar became more and more renowned in the cheese trade. In 1595, the cheese-porters’ guild was founded and Alkmaar’s town square was fully equipped with all the resources necessary for trading large quantities of cheese, or [kaas]. The market has always been held on Waagplein square, which was enlarged several times to reach its current size. This shows the major importance of the cheese trade for the city.
In the Middle Ages, or [Middeleeuwen] in Dutch, it was common practice to establish a guild for each profession. As I said before, the cheese porters, or [kaasdragers] in Dutch, did this in 1595. The cheese porters' guild consists of thirty men plus the cheese father, all easily recognized by their traditional garb. Even more interestingly, different lineages of cheese porters can be identified from the color of their hats.
Customers who come to the market can pick whatever cheese they would like, and of course, taste tests go without saying. If the lot is sold and weighed, the cheese porters carry the cheeses across the market towards buyers’ trucks. The cheese is transported on a so-called wooden handbarrow that hangs in between the two cheese porters. This is a simple carrying shelf that’s tall enough and strong enough to support about eight Gouda cheeses, each weighing about thirteen, or [dertien], kilograms.
Something that we just cannot go without mentioning when talking about cheese is of course, cows. The Dutch black-and-white cow is very popular worldwide due to its high milk production, and in the Netherlands there are about 1.5 million cows roaming around. Dutch cows, or [koeien], are highly beneficial to the cheese market because, after all, cheese is really just a concentration of the solid materials in milk, or [melk] in Dutch.
Do you know how much milk you need to make one kilo of Gouda cheese? Almost ten liters!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Where does the concept of sampling come from?
For sure, it’s from the Netherlands. The Dutch term for sampling actually originates from the cheese market, where the inspector would prod a cheese taster right in the middle of the cheese to notch out a chunk for quality control.
What did you think of this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever eaten a piece of real Dutch cheese?
Leave us your comments on DutchPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.