Dutch Cheese Markets
There are five cheese markets operating in the Netherlands. Woerden is a modern working commercial cheese market. Four, Alkmaar, Gouda, Edam and Hoorn, are like traditional merchant cheese markets as operated in the post-medieval period, re-enacted during the summer months for tourists. The shows are today surrounded by stalls selling all things traditional to the Dutch culture, including cheese.
Dutch cheese farmers traditionally brought their cheeses to the market square in town to sell. Teams (vemen) of official guild cheese-porters (kaasdragers), identified by differently coloured straw hats associated with their forwarding company, carried the farmers' cheese on barrows, which typically weighed about 160 kilograms. Buyers then sampled the cheeses and negotiated a price using a ritual system called handjeklap in which buyers and sellers clap each other's hands and shout prices. Once a price is agreed, the porters carry the cheese to the weighing house (Waag), and scale of their company.
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