The Great Wheel of Cheese


Last April, we visited my husband’s family. I can’t say the days were sunny, but the gray weather makes everything lush and green. We visited this “molen,” or windmill, with his dad. They still dot the countryside, although Dutchies are now more likely to get their electricity from the powerful wind turbines that stretch over fields or reach out of the sea like a new species of seaweed.


In the small town of Zwartsluis, we joined the tugboat festival. Every day for a few days prior, tugboats of all sizes tugged into the locks and waterways surrounding the village. They moored alongside piers, strung up lights and hung flags.


On Saturday evening the tugs moved out into the canals to cruise loops around the town. My father-in-law’s back patio abbuts the canal and was the perfect spot for tug watching. Some friends and family joined us for dinner (that I cooked!) and to watch the tugs, including two friends from our time on Logos 2.


We bundled up, lit two fires in the fire pit and listened to the rumble of the engines.

Because this was Holland, of course there was coffee.

And then, because this was Holland, there was cheese.


Before we left The Netherlands, I really wanted to get some cheese we could take back with us. My husband misses it. You can find Gouda and Edam cheeses in US grocery stores, but it’s about $4 for a tiny triangle, and it never tastes the same. I’ve seen some of them with “Made in Wisconsin” stamped on the label.


As we wandered through the shopping district of Mapel, I spotted a cheese shop. Oh, what glorious cheese. Wheels upon wheels of the creamy yellow discs. We asked the cheese man about bringing it back on the plane. He promised he would vacuum-seal it, and it would make it through customs.

I’ve never spent $60 on cheese at one time before in my life, but it was so worth it when we got home.


Look at the care on that man’s face as he slices into that perfect, waxy wheel.

That cheese wheel lasted us almost six months. And after hauling that thing home in our suitcase? We didn’t share one slice.


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