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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, June 05, 1910, Image 8

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1910-06-05/ed-1/seq-8/

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Bertha H. Smith
THERE is nothing quainter and
more picturesque left In Europei
than a Dutch cheese market^ If
you chance to stumble upon one
away off In some wee village in the
middle, of Holland you have to work
hard to make yourself believe that the
very cbeeses you see lying about on the
ground waiting for buyers may one day
be on your own table in America. ''_ In
the* little town of Purmerend alone
there Is a cheese market every week,
where from 25 to 20 tons of Edam
cheese, change hantis and any old Dutch
farmer that sees you will give you a
emile. for the canny man knows that
America takes a good share of all the
cheese he makes.
The tourist bureaus in the big Dutch
cities are always bo busy trying to
eteer stray travelers to the four Dutch
/dams" that they never think to tell
anybody about the cheese markets. And
If you ask them they wllj reluctantly
teU you to go to Hoorn. There is a
cheese market there, to be cure, a big
modern sbrt of market, where the men
who handle the cheeses are all spick
and span in white duck suits- and
everything is smart and up to date and
might be right here In brand new
But if ' on the way to Hoorn you
chance to meet a friendly Dutchman
who can understand enough, English to
>-. -zv? that you want to go to a real
E-ytrh cheese market, he will hustle you
off to« train at Purmerend. And he
will direct .you to so to a certain
"heerenlodgement" kept by the dearest
Dutch woman/who can not speak a
word of English but who In her anxiety
to make 7ou comfortable will run and
bring a book with a Dutch-English vo
cabulary and point to the names of
things she thinks you may need. But
her room Is likely to be. in such per
fect order that you can think of noth
ing you want but a chance to* get Into
the . nice dean bed; so as to get up
bright and early in the morning to see
all there is of the market. .... ';><
• There Is no danger ,/if oversleeping.'
"While it it is still twjjight wagons
.\u25a0will begin going- by .the door, and you
*wlll hear the squealing of pigs, the
bleating of sheep. the lo,wing of cows
and the trembling mo-o-o-o-o.of young
calves, and the chatter of chickens, and
quack of ducks, for on the day of the
cheese market every farmer, brings to
town anythlng.he may have in the hope
of making a trade "with so^nebody for
The.night berore a good many hun
dreds of chees«s have been laid out
in the great" open \u25a0 space In the, center
of the town consecrated to this most
precious of the products. And since;
one can't sle*p, he might as well dress
and take a run down before breakfast
to see the rest of the cheeses unloaded.
They are brought in in an odd shaped
wagon with a. cover,' which ;is taken,
off for unloading. The cheeses,^ big,
round, yellow and shiny,' are ' tossed
expertly, two at a time, , by a man on
the wagon to araan on the. ground,
who lays them in. long, straight rows,'
two deep, on a" big cloth stretched on
the pavement. , They, look for all the\
world like huge oranges, and by the '
-time the wagons are all unloaded it
seems a goodly crop, covering, '. per-."
haps, a quarter of.an acre; of ground.
While the last are being unloaded
you ' can run back .to breakfast, ' for a
Dutch breakfast is. a treat after, the";
everlasting "plain breakfast" of other
European countries, which is a regular
holdup to -a tribe of . breakfast eaters.
You can understand why Englishmen
and . other Europeans are always
grouchy at breakfast , tlmel , That ever
lasting breakfast of cold" bread", and:
adulterated coffee, '• tea; . or \u25a0 cocoa; >- la ;
enough to make anybody grouchy.
But here In .Holland you are con-~
fronted by a breakfast 0.. "no : less ; than
four ;[ kinds of cold meats, sliced •bo
beautifully and served so daintily, that
you are inclined to forgive their being:
cold. You may have eggs, too,' If you
like, and the . rolls "will- be ;l warm, and.
the coffee' will, be" "real 'coffee.. Then
there is a ereat covered dish .in. which'
you will discover, something' related ;to
gingerbread with fruit and citron in it,
and a.big. plate'- of cheese .and a' de
licious sort of biscuit that the Cutch
serve with cheesed There will be Jams
and preserves— lndeed, so,, many. -things
that you: can't get around -to them all.'
If you .; chance to own; a Dutch- grand
mother, you ,will now understand* why.
In your own home breakfast has always
been a regular meal.
But you can't stop long, even -if .the
breakfast' and,the garden outside | the'
door do. invite, you. For. the bustle and
the noises of ;the: street' are calling.* .'
Back again at'thie market, 1 you' begin
to -wonder when the' business'wlll be
gin. : The ..owners ,of 'the cheese",'' fine
old .fellows ', with kindly/wrinkled
faces; pipes between flrm'lips and 'huge
"klqompen" on, their feet, stand;
beside, their rows of, -hidden, gold—-cov
j ered now; that the sun Is getting warm
-.\u25a0—waiting 1 "for buyers.', They, never. offer.
; their cheese, for. sale,, never. hawk them
sor seem to try to attract 'attention to
them. v They merely^ stand and- wait. . ; _.
| Presently a. biiyer^ comes and lifts up
... -.. . ' \u0084 \u25a0:\u25a0 \u25a0;-,•\u25a0\u25a0- ..'\u25a0\u25a0.'.:;.'-••\u25a0---- «r .. . -•.\u25a0\u25a0->-,
a corner, of - the cloth, and takes a look.>
If ; he- puts' it 'down :: and -walks away,^
that! is the end ; of lt.l If^he. begin -td^
'ask^questions or, to '-handle' theVcheeses?
the -owner gets awake and they talkC
together, \ the buyer ' cutting into ;. a >
: cheese, " : perhaps, ., with ; a ; sort \ of ,.' knife '
that cutsfliuite : to th e s center, and takes :
out a round plug, -which *he tastes,?
throwing the 'scraps to the • dogs - that
v walk, around waiting for • them. .There.'
vlsTnotnolsy haggling,. no wrangling or;
-quarreling. |T» If << you see - one .-.man .- put ,.
'.'out- his •Vharid; ipalm^upward '£ and ' the «
/ otherj clasp^ lt-'and^ then".tur*n»hisr'owni
wtoi'oep' slapped l.by.^tho;;flrst;V you"; will
" know^byHhat'tokeiijthatCsbmercheeseSi
/ have" If jt hat 'does 'not',
'.'\u25a0 happen i the f buyer '.walks ;along i tofan-J
l «ther;lot and -the oyMier. takes" his stand \:
, ' • So -while \u25a0 you ''are, "wondering when
the trading will : begin -'perhaps half >
the • cheeses have been ; - sold.^ . ' The |
sign ;of •. it* to. you; will" be when some
xnencome along, with a'blg wagon" box
swung, on :'tw^o •''wheels, •Vuhhoofc the
wagon-b ox .and : setvlt .-on the- ground
and ;begin> tossing. .cheeses into It 'like
balls, *two at* a* time. "When^he box is :
fulK they, awing it- on the wheels again
and v push -:lt' away. Ito. ' the /warehouse,
or perhaps' to?.a" boat .Jied * up'; ln the
, can/il {at • the end: of ; the street, .to bo
taken, to another village, i < . '
At the! warehouse 'they : are weighed
and .then.' laid •out-. In rovJa 'on' long
shelves tof-rlpen; "'This takes f rflm \u25a0 one
to" two -months/. -* Meanwhile- ;mold
gathers,; on 'the outside v of' them, and
this has to be* scraped oft .before; they
]aro^painted wjth- the^-red paint- by
which'wo know an; Edam cheese.'/
know it ;50,000 or 60,000
pounds -cheese * have [ changed hands,
the 'price ?fangingifrom; 2S^to ; 31 cerits
a: pound.' This 'means, sales 'amounting
to betweenlJl2,oooand $15,000," all made
sof quietly 'affd good naturedly that a
stray; American can't -realize 'that any
business* has' been going; orTat all.
'There* has* been "a lot . of'chatting
; among 3 friends \u25a0 who ; meet here every
Iweek, ; and • the "bier hauses", do'' a lively.
buslness»whlleLthe niarket Is .going; on,
though ;.< nobody, ; ,:'seem3 ; to get; 'drunk.
Now and. then groups of cheese' makers,
•In * their,/ picturesque , short skirts, tight
Bodices and crisp Avhjto lace caps, saun
ter by. the mar ket.pl ace.; They, seem to
"divide. their "time ' between;, making pur
chases'.and carrying ; on ; mild;. flirtations
rwlth'th'o men in the market. V. .'-' - 'V .
•'/-It^is aJgreat'day'for^the'store'keep-'
vers,\who; have^'as mucihTof '.theirCwares
i as \u25a0; possible* exposed -on * the ~ r street f outV
(side their Jshops.";' One'-' of Vthe*;buslest
\u25a0places l i 3 the<* f kloomDcn" t ShoD.'for whila
Tte;f ; San Prancisco ; Sunday Call
one! can't understand how It happens, .
wooden shoes do seem to wear out. And
there are so many different kinds* of
"klobmpen." -Old fashioned folk seem
to , cling to the simple unpainted ones.
But -hesldo 'these hang fancy ones all
varnished, and "sometimes painted to
simulate strings,' buttons and- buckles.
These are much affected by the younger
men. ;wfio also seem to favor shoes with
heels cut' from the one solid piece of
wood, from which the shoes are made.
'Many of -the men-are dressed, save/
for the "kloompen/* in ordinary clothes.
But walkihgr/'about.. all unconscious ot
their oddity, are. the men from Volen
dam,. one of ;the four famous . "dams,"
and from .the q^uaint little island oC
Marken. with the wide trousers that
look as if mother'must have made them.
-t A few streets away from tne cheese
market is an. open square with the pen 3
for horses and stock, and in the oppo
site- direction , a . space covered -with bi jj
baskets full of chickens and ducks. In
both these "place 3 ': the saraa quiet bar
gaining goes on. and you sfee the man
who has come to market .with a wagon
full: of cheeses going back. to his wagon
leading a new horse or colt, a cow o»
sheep; or with a basket. of chickens hit- '
der,, his arm. -. or - perhaps, a young calf
swung around his neck, the fore feet la
one hand and the hind feet In the other.
Everybody • goes homo with something
different, from .what he. brought- to mar*
ketand the pride of a new ownerahlo
beams. from every^ face.
V •Altogether market day seems to b» \
quiteithe biggest' event. of ;these simple <
lives It Is a fleeting; joy.. however for '
\u25a0by . >2 , : . o'clock-. In * the t afternoon eVerr
wagon .has -left,; the town. th» "blez>
hauses :- ara _. : empty. "/ the . shop . keeper*
a^^arranslng ithelr; broken stock*!
and .every .woman is down on her kaaai
scrubbias ber-doorste» *

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