Gouda is not a cheese to conjure with. The famous red wax covered, ball of blandness is cleverly produced to have no apparent flavour, which makes it impossible to dislike for its taste, as it has none. Its form renders it extremely useful in producing the “hedgehog” of cocktail sticks, topped with cheese and pineapple, so popular with retro hipsters. A better use would be to fire it from cannons at a brick wall, which would be fun and might pass as street art. The one good thing with red waxed Gouda is that you can’t waste it, just as you can’t taste it. There is a codicil to to this rant in that it only applies to young, immature Gouda.
Grown up Gouda is another kettle of curds altogether. I have made it my business to avoid “love” and “passion” ( seems a lonely life, I know) but I confess to having a strong disposition to Oude Goudse Kaas, or very mature, old Gouda. It is not a cheese that I often find in this land awash with curds and whey, which is probably why each meeting is so sweet. There it is, across a crowded room, and unthinkingly, I rush to it. This is a hard cheese giving the satisfaction of a strong English cheddar but without the notes of sourness. It has more of an affinity with caramel and sea salt. Umami is the key, but without the MSG. I imagine it would be wonderful on toast, or grated over a gratin but it never gets that far with me. Slivers are cut off to be enjoyed with a sip of wine and some good dark bread. I dread the diminishing size of the wedge as it may be some time before we two meet again.