As we walked down the brick paved road the tents from the street market blasted hot air and the smell of freshly made pastries. It was a gray afternoon in Amsterdam, and the path was full of people milling around, stuffing their faces and smoking weed. Everywhere you looked someone was putting a blunt to their lips, moving in slow motion and taking in everything with bloodshot eyes. We had only been there for a day and a half and Melody was already over it.
“I just want to eat poffertjes and get away from this smell!” She said in a sing-songy voice. Most of the college kids who come to Amsterdam only have one thing on their minds, and that is the legal acquisition of marijuana, but not Melody. The only thing on her mind during this whole trip had been sweet mini pancakes dusted with powdered sugar and topped with butter that apparently Amsterdam was known for. I had never heard of poffertjes but I was along for the ride and I followed Melody where ever her nose lead her.
We came to a small red tent where a lady in a blue apron slowly flipped tiny little circles the size of quarters over a skillet. The smell hit me and brought me back to Sunday mornings with my father, making pancake batter and flipping the flapjacks on the stove. Melody beamed at the little white globs that were becoming a toasty brown color.
“Poffertjes?” I asked.
“Poffertjes.” Melody replied stepping into line and watching the women use a thin toothpick to flip them over to bake the other side. There were ten people in front of us, all of them wide-eyed and mouths watering as they watch the women work. As we waited, I didn’t hear a complaint from anyone. The atmosphere was contagious in this city. It might have been the weed in the air or just some European magic that made everything so relaxed, so chill. People lounged in cafes for hours smoking, talking, watching the world go by. I’m not sure how long we waited in that line, but to me, it didn’t matter. Melody and I chatted away, waiting for our food but in the same moment not waiting at all; just existing in that one space and in that one moment, and at that moment I felt high. I was high on the beauty of the buildings as they leaned forward on their foundations, wanting to hear the conversations and laughs of the people down below. I was high on the feeling of my aching feet in beat-up sneakers after a long day of exploring. I was high on the sound of canal water lapping at riverboat edges and bells on bikes as they whipped past. I was high on the company of a good friend as we watched fluffy white powdered sugar being poured over mini pancakes with globs of butter melting on top. I was high without weed, and it was addictive.
As I took my first bite of poffertjes, the sweetness of the sugar-coated my tongue and the spongey cake saturated in butter melted in my mouth. It was small and warm and oh so good.
“Oh man, these are amazing, ah!” Melody mumbled with her mouth full.
“Yea, these are defiantly hitting the spot.” I smiled at her and stuffed more mini pancakes in my mouth. I wasn’t really sure it was the poffertjes or the experience of eating something new in a beautiful city that was making me so happy, but I didn’t care. I had the munchies, and the poffertjes were just what I needed because I had no plans of coming down from my travel high anytime soon.