What happens at the Cheese Market?

The Cheese Market at 07.00 – Placing the cheeses
Trucks full of cheese drive onto the Waagplein. Under the watchful eye of the market master, the 'setters' unload as much as 30,000 kilos of Gouda and Edam cheese in long rows at the, as yet, still quiet Waagplein.

The Cheese Market at 09.00 – The cheese selection
There are now 2,400 cheeses on the Waagplein. Judges assess the quality of the cheeses by clogging, peeling and tasting them. They also look at the amount of holes in the cheese: these should be perfectly divided throughout the cheese.

Enjoy tasting and sampling? These terms originate from the Cheese Market, where the judges use a cheese drill to cut out pieces of cheese for tastings.

The Cheese Market at 09.30 – Cheese carriers
The cheese carriers arrive at the Waaggebouw. Those who are late must pay a fine. Part of fines go to a school in the town of Alkmaar in Suriname.

The Cheese Market at 09.45 - Appeal Cheese father
The head of the cheese carriers, the 'cheese father', assembles everyone in the Waaggebouw. Are all cheese carriers present? Are there any specials at the market today? Which cheese carriers will work at which part of the Cheese Market?

The Cheese Market at 10.00 – The Cheese bell
At 10 o'clock the cheese bell will sound. The honour of ringing the bell is usually reserved for Dutch celebrities or people with a particular relationship to the town of Alkmaar. After ringing the bell, the bargaining begin on the price of the cheese can begin.

The Cheese Market from 10.00 – Cheese weighing
Once a batch of cheese has been sold, the cheese carriers carry the cheese on a barrow to the Waag. There the cheese is weighed by the so-called 'tasman' or ‘bagman’. Where the tasman gets his name from? From the bag around his waist, where he keeps his money. The guardian ensures that the correct weight is passed on to the buyer.

The Cheese Market from 10.00 – Carrying the cheese
Has a batch of cheese been weighed and sold? Then the cheese carriers carry the cheese across the market to the buyers' trucks. They carry the cheese in pairs on a barrow. This is, after all, more than 100 kilos of cheese! It is quiet an act to keep the cheese barrow in balance while walking. The cheese carriers must run in a certain rhythm called the "cheese carrier dribble."

The Cheese Market at 12.30 - Cheese throwing
The throwers load the last cheeses into carts and bring them to the trucks on the Marktstraat. The cheese disappears from sight, and we are left with the bustling terraces of Waagplein. Perfect time to treat yourself to a cheese sandwich...

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