“How do they make cheese?” - a Zaanse Schans novel

Posted in Zaanse Schans on Saturday, January 23, 2016
Author: Dion Verhelst

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“Mom, how do they make cheese?”. That’s the exact question my daughter asked us one day when we were eating lunch. She had made herself a cheese sandwich and apparently, wondered how that tasty, in their opinion (I hate cheese) substance was created. We get questions like that a lot, she is 6 years old right now and wants to know how stuff works. Usually I come up with witty answers, for example on how clouds are made: “You see that big pipe, next to that factory? That’s where they make clouds.” But this ‘cheese’ question was easy for us to answer.

Zaanse Schans

We live close to a tourist attraction called the Zaanse Schans. It’s a very authentic place with windmills which are still in use like they were back in the old days. It’s also a place where you enter with a full wallet, and leave with an empty one and I’m not talking about pickpocketing. On the Zaanse Schans there happens to be a cheese mill/factory, where they actually make cheese the old fashioned way. So we put on our shoes and coats, stepped into the car, rode for 5 mins (we actually live that close) and went a couple of hundred years back in time.

Cheese Mill

Our first stop, as promised, was the cheese mill. Inside, there’s a small area behind glass windows where they display the cheese making. An area in front of the cheese making area is set up like a ‘show and tell’ stage with a rope dividing the people from that area. Next to that room lies the shop, which is 4 times bigger than the ‘show and tell’ area.

We politely asked if an explanation could be given that day, and a nice lady (fully dressed in traditional attire) walked back with us and demonstrated/explained how cheese actually is made. My little girl watched the explanation and learned, *insert proud daddy stance*, she even repeated the steps to me outside, in a cute explanation to show what she had learned.


Next stop, the ChocoLab. This laboratory, as they call it themselves, is located in a tiny building. It actually is a slightly themed shop, where you can make your own chocolate milk for 2 euro’s and they sell all kind of flavored chocolate bars inside. On one side they display a couple of old tools and products, with explanation and history, used to create chocolate back then.

While I was browsing the different bars they had on display, a kind employee asked if I wanted to taste some samples. My tummy said “yes”, my brains said “yes”, I even believe that my mouth mumbled “yes” as well, and before I knew it he dropped a piece of, hold on tight, Broccoli flavored chocolate in my hand. I don’t know if you’ve tasted Broccoli soup before, but it tasted exactly like that. Then he dropped a sample of a Pumpkin/Ginger flavored chocolate in my hand. My opinion: Yes, it tastes like pumpkin, and ginger, period. I’m sure they’ve invented that flavor just to watch the reaction of people putting it in their mouth. So if you happen to see a video of a person dropping a piece of chocolate in his mouth, frowns, gets undefinable facial expressions, then nods... it’s me.

Spice Mill

Our last stop, kind of by coincidence, was a spice mill. We did not plan on going there. The inside of this mill was set up like a small museum, with actual working millstones. I did some periscoping for Thrillz.co to show everyone around. In one corner a video was playing, telling about the history of spice milling (I did not really pay attention to it), with seats made out of barrels with a cushion on top. My daughter loved it, so I was happy. In other corners you could see two out of order milling stones and a working one. Besides them lay sacks filled with different kinds of spices like; cinnamon, pepper, etc. Of course, like all mills, the ‘tour’ ends in a shop where they sell the products that are ‘fabricated’ in the different mills.

Yes.. I’m a Tourist

We finally ended up in a tourist shop (they have a couple on the entire premise) near the entrance. That’s where we bought some gifts for our American friends and finally returned home.

Now that I wrote this all down, I can’t help but think that this was quite a big way to answer a 6-year old’s question. She was more than satisfied with the answer though.

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Dion Verhelst

Dion Verhelst

Guitarist, Pixel Artist, Web Designer/Front-Ender and on top of all that, family man. Dion loves entertainment, and what better entertainment than theme parks? For Thrillz he writes blogs and reviews about themeparks and themepark related products, and creates content for the social media platforms.

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