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Dutch cheese: Weighing in a “sedan chair”

  The Netherlands is the largest cheese exporter in the world, and the Dutch themselves consume an average of more than 10 kilograms of cheese per person per year. Dutch cheese has a long history. Curdled milk was found in clay pots unearthed locally in 800 BC; in “Gallic Wars”, it is also recorded that the Dutch menu contains cheese.
  Many cities in the Netherlands have cheese museums, but the Dutch National Cheese Museum is not in the capital Amsterdam, but in the cheese weighing station in Alkmaar. The third floor of the museum is the historical exhibition area, displaying various traditional tools for making cheese, such as cheese presses, cheese tanks, butter mixers, etc.; the second floor is the modern dairy industry exhibition area, where visitors can learn about cheese, etc. The processing and production process of dairy products; the first floor is the sales area, with a variety of cheese-related products, including postcards, cheese recipes, and of course the most varied cheeses.
  Although the small square in front of the museum is small, it is one of the largest and oldest cheese markets in the world. According to reports, a market dedicated to cheese trading has been formed here since the 14th century, with a history of more than 600 years. During the summer months, every Friday morning is when the cheese market opens and the town is busiest. In recent years, as the Dutch government has paid more and more attention to creating a cheese cultural tourism industry, it has attracted many tourists. Here, tire-sized round cheeses are neatly stacked, waiting for buyers to pick and buy.
  The trade in the cheese market still maintains the ancient tradition. The first step in buying and selling is to inspect the goods. The buyer chooses a trusted industry expert and checks with special tools. It is a pointed drill pipe that, after being inserted deep into the cheese, can be rotated like opening a wine bottle to turn out a long strip of cheese. Inspectors check the quality and ripeness of cheese by pinching, smelling, tasting and other methods. Sometimes, they will invite onlookers to taste together and ask the onlookers how to evaluate it. After appraising the quality, the buyer starts negotiating with the seller. The way of bargaining is ancient and unique. During the negotiation process, buyers and sellers frequently clap each other’s palms. In the end, the highest bidder gets the cheese.
  After the deal was negotiated, the audience reached its climax. The cheese porter becomes the protagonist of people’s sight and camera chase. They wear neat white clothes and white trousers, and straw hats of four different colors: red, yellow, blue, and green. That kind of board is low in the middle, both ends are upturned, and there are two handles on the front and back, which is a bit like a traditional Chinese dry boat. The porters lift the cheese in pairs, like a sedan chair, and the long shoulder straps go around the porter’s shoulders and are tied to the handles on both sides of the boat-shaped board. However, unlike lifting a sedan chair, the boat-shaped board is very close to the ground, and the porter’s hands do not touch the handle. Each block of cheese weighs about 40 kilograms, and only eight blocks can be transported at a time. I saw the two men with their backs straight, one in front of the other, swinging their hands in a large and regular manner, striding forward with long legs and walking like flying, carrying the cheese selected by the buyer to the weighing station. Scales to weigh. Porters running back and forth with different color labels become the moving landscape on the Exchange Square.
  At this time, the transaction seems to have become a performance. The musicians in traditional costumes play the old-fashioned accordion with the pace of the porters. burst into laughter. There are also a variety of stalls selling traditional Dutch goods in the market, including various cheeses, traditional snacks, and stalls that make Dutch wooden shoes and other handicrafts by hand. Every stall owner is dressed in traditional national costumes, and tourists strolling among them seem to have traveled to the Middle Ages.
  There are countless varieties and flavors of Dutch cheese, and there are many brands. The locals are most proud of the traditional cheese produced and processed by each cattle farm’s own workshop. The internationally renowned Dutch cheeses are actually classified according to categories and named after the trading places with traditional cheese trading markets. Cheeses are divided in texture, there are hard, semi-hard, and soft and silky; in terms of taste, there are sweet, salty, salty and sweet, as well as smoked and cumin , spiced and so on.
  Cheese can also be eaten in a variety of ways. It can be used as a side dish, eaten directly as a snack, or used to make popcorn and biscuits that are popular among children. Spreading cheese on bread is one of the most common ways to eat it. The Dutch have their own ideas about what kind of cheese to match with bread. For example, a bit rough slightly sour black bread paired with silky old Amsterdam cheese is a perfect match from taste to taste. The average height of the Dutch is the highest in the world, and the average height of adult men reaches 1.8 meters. The Dutch believe that local children often eat cheese, which is an important reason for the tall Dutch people.
  Some people call the Dutch “cheese heads”. According to legend, this is because when Napoleon occupied the Netherlands, French soldiers always liked to steal cheese from the locals. When rebelling against the French, the farmer would wear the wooden mold used to make cheese on his head as a helmet. There is also a saying that the Netherlands is low-lying and the river network is criss-crossing. In the past, Dutch people often crossed the river with cheese the size of a wheel on their heads, so they got the title of “cheese head”.
  The Dutch people are famous for their hard work and bravery, which can be seen from many local folk sayings. Interestingly, many Dutch sayings also exude a strong “cheese flavor”. For example, the Dutch teach their children to be hardworking, and they would say “free cheese is only on the mousetrap”; to encourage children to be brave, they would say “don’t let people eat the cheese on your bread”.

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