Gouda was great, a mostly true story

by | Nov 7, 2012 | Memoir, Musings | 8 comments

Gouda Was Great
By Laura McHale Holland

I’d had it before, probably at some buffet along the way, but I didn’t come to know gouda until I was part of a ragtag group heading south toward the Mediterranean in a VW van.

A guy from Canada had a whole wheel of gouda he’d carried in his pack all the way from Amsterdam. And it was gouda that bonded us, him slicing pieces with a Swiss army knife and passing them around as we bumped along.

We ate gouda on a hillside by the road, around campfire flames and, on the ferry to Morocco, where everything smouldered at the edges. Yet the days wore on and the waves rolled in and the drums droned at sunset, and we brushed our teeth in the saltwater waves, and the gouda was great, feeding us again and again until the guy from Canada caught a ride to Tangiers with a girl on a motorcycle. He took his gouda with him, leaving not even his name behind.


Photo by tuppus.

Share this:

The Kiminee Dream: Now Available!

My new novel is coming soon. Mark your calendar!

Influenced by folklore and magical realism, The Kiminee Dream is a lyrical story with characters equally charmed and challenged while living where the ordinary and miraculous coexist seamlessly. If you like depth as well as whimsy, arresting twists, and details that rouse your senses, you’ll love what is both an eloquent exploration of acceptance and a tender tribute to the people of Illinois.


  1. Jerry Kohut

    that wasn’t very nice, but it was great while it lasted. Thanks for sharing what’s your name.

  2. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Jeff Smith said it on his PBS show “The Frugal Gourmet.
    Andrew Zimmerman has said it on his Travel Channel show “Bizarre Foods.”
    Food is the tie that binds. If you get down and eat the food of an ethnic group other than your own it opens a door for “communication” regardless of whether or not you share the same language.
    I, myself, have experienced this in Chinatown for Dim Sum. I could sense their “resentment” I had been given their table to share. I saw they’d been eating a “weird” dish I like to eat, I began to look around to see which waitress had the cart that had it. They asked me if I’d been looking for something, to which I answered,”Yes, the dish you’re eating.” In their minds, if I knew what they were eating.” To which they asked if I knew what it was, and when I told them without any hesitation what it was, they were shocked, and quickly got it for me. As they saw me eating this dish as if it had been quite ordinary, they gave me some white to put on it, saying it would taste better–which it did. After they saw me next eating braised chicken feet /w black bean sauce andbaby squids, they asked me if I like this stuff and I answered I loved it, however, I then told them my friends don’t come with me because they get “sick” looking at what I like to eat. I love to eat something different, something special [dim sum = little treasures] When they heard this remark a short conversation ensued. So far having a “hostile” interaction I had one of “friendship” regarding food.

    The same I feel [as I wrote above] must have occurred with you and those around you regarding the gouda cheese. [I actually prefer the smoked gouda over the regular one. And once it had “disappeared” with the guy from Canada, everyone went back to the way it had been before the gouda cheese came upon the scene.

  3. Arletta Dawdy

    Those were the days…of Gouda and fondu, of jug wine and folk music, of long hair and skirts of such length….and riding into the sunset. Sweet.

  4. admin

    Ah, Jerry, I got a good chuckle out of your comment.

  5. admin

    What a wonderful experience you just described of being able to turn what could have been a hostile or uncomfortable experience into a friendly one. … I recall about 40 years ago lots of young people were on the move and would come together on the road and share food, which led to some odd meals, but we didn’t care. We thought we were inventing new ways of experiencing the world. I think it’s funny that the gouda guy came to mind after all these years. I think gouda cheese was mainstream in the U.S. back then; I just hadn’t experienced much variety in my diet. For example, I didn’t taste an avocado until I was 21.

  6. admin

    Good to hear from you, Arletta. Yes, it was a special time, wasn’t it. I wonder how we’ll look back on the days we’re living now in time.

  7. Barbara Toboni

    Gouda story, Laura. Cheese makes a great centerpiece for the story, forget the guy’s name. Love it.

  8. admin

    Thanks, Barbara. Love your use of “Gouda” as an adjective. Big smile here.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up here to receive your free copy of Just In Case

Subscribe to Laura McHale Holland’s newsletter

Thank you! Watch your inbox, your welcome email should arrive soon.