Don’t Go to Gouda Just for Cheese
It typically rains in the Netherlands during the month of April and we were blessed on this trip to escape any weather issues until our afternoon in Gouda. It did rain and it was pretty steady and hard. In spite of the weather, we did have another very special experience. I don’t have many pictures, but am glad we went.
The old town was typically medieval and charming with the incredibly long St John’s church, famous for its extremely tall 16th-century stained-glass windows. But the pièce de résistance was learning how they made the tasty Stroopwafels and getting to make one ourselves. We pressed the pre-formed dough in the waffle press for exactly 35 seconds and then came the tricky part – slicing the thin pastry in half through the center. The knife was VERY sharp and after realizing how difficult it was going to be, I asked for help as did most everyone. After adding a ladle full of cinnamon-infused caramel, you press the two halves together and spin – voila, its ready to eat. It smelled so good and was so nice and toasty, I forgot to take a picture and instead, just gobbled it up.
First made in the late 18th century, bakers used leftover dough and bits and crumbs of other items to fashion this high-sugar treat for the poor. They were cheap, delicious, energizers sold out the back door of the bakery. As the seventh-generation bakery owner explained, the treat was “like the Red Bull” of its day.” Now only two of the original 100 bakers remain, with the Van den Berg Bakery being one. Thankfully, stroopwafels are now manufactured throughout the country and have become a national symbol of the Netherlands.
It’s the stroopwafels that are from Gouda – not the cheese. Although Gouda cheese comes from an area not far from here. There were plenty of cheese shops and we found one with liberal tasting policies and tried some of the tremendous varieties. We made no purchases since we weren’t sure it would survive customs; I really wanted to bring back the Hemp Gouda.