AMSTERDAM—Veni, weedy, peachy.
I came, I smoked, I felt keen. Or possibly I turned into a peach. Frankly, my first foray into the warehouse housing the 26th High Times Cannabis Cup
put me in a vegetative state as I sampled my way through what I like to call the GABF. Beer enthusiasts know that acronym as Great American Beer Festival. But I'm a budding doobie bro now, having left puritanical Portland where marijuana and dancing are outlawed. So I think of it as the Great Amsterdam Bud Fest.
Cannabis Cup isn’t much different than what you’d imagine being at a pot expo would be like in any of the 48 states that have yet to legalize herb—vendors pedaling their wares and growers touting their seeds—but with one minor difference. And it’s like the difference between kicking the tires and going on a test drive.
So let’s skip past the demos of unbleached and organic rolling papers, pipes, and vaporizers, brush aside the grinder and the bubble bag merchants, and all the hemp fabric clothiers, and find me standing outside where a food truck is set up slinging burgers and something called patatje stoof.
I know the first word must mean potato-y something and the –je suffix implies diminutive the way Grolsch comes in bottles (fleis
and tiny bottles
? Perhaps it’s a stuffed potato or, more likely, stuuf, er, stoof on frites. So at worst it’s some kind of mayo. We’ve all seen Pulp Fiction
; that stuff’s real. I know double vowels in Dutch don’t make give them a long sound like in English, so it’s not going to be pronounced “stoo’f.” I take a stab at “stouf” and the cook replies with an assertive question, “Patat-che stœf
A moment later, he beckons and I pay €6.50. I’m handed a tray of frites ‘neath a meatslide that’s not pulled pork so much as beef stew. I take my first bite and I’m both amazed and furious. This is the best stuff ever and I don’t think it’s just the munchies talking. Why the hell didn’t anybody tell me about this sooner?
Patatje stoof? Patatje stoof. Patatje stoof!
Some might liken it to chili fries, others to poutine. But that’s like calling the Blazers of 2013 just like the 2011 Trailblazers but with Damian Lillard. Or saying Wham is just George Michael with some Andrew Ridgeley on top.
I start with evenly metered out nibbles. Within seconds, I’m not sure if I’m mowing down on it so hard because it’s tasty food or because it is a mermaid and I am some emaciated sub-aquatic vampire. I can’t tell if time has sped up or slowed down. Could I be noshing in freeze frame? After all, how could one small plate last a fortnight? Time becomes infinite and meaningless inside of the reggae beat pumping down from the speakers inside the adjoining lounge I enter to dine. Did I find myself jamming along, head swiveling, or does that occur only in my mind? Or do I actually like and get reggae now? Nooooooooooo.
"Holy fuck, get away."
But between that soundtrack and the video loop airing on multiple TV sets above me with trippy-colored images and memes—first of Michael Nesmith mega sideburned out, then an oedipal disco soap opera, then something that was either an erotic detergent commercial or PG porn—it dawns on me I’m fluffin’ baked. And I still have half a tray of patatje stoof l
eft and I may never come down.
The atmosphere wants me up—in the weed world this would be an Indica strain high—what with pixies and Tina Turner and what I can only describe as a gay Skeletor/Terminator
hybrid on TV. But I feel the paranoia sinking in—past the Sativa strain mellow and into a moodier realm—and wonder what was in that caramel-like edible I’d sampled. It seemed the size of a Starburst but the way the hawker exclaimed, “Oh, big piece” makes me contemplate the sagacity of scarfing it in a single bite. Also, reflecting on some dried sour apricots I brought as a snack, I realize that they’re absolutely one of my favorite foods of all time. Like, last-meal item good. I’m vibrating-knees deep into a three-hour high, a three-hour high, and ponder about opening a patatje stoof
cart when I move back to Stumptown.
By which point cannabis will be legal in Portland and you can see what this is all about.