SSUK: Greetings Frenchy and thank you for taking the time to sit down with Soft Secrets. Can you tell the readers about how you got started with cannabis?
Bonjour, you are very welcome. I would first like to thank all of you at Soft Secrets being part of the effort to communicate facts around the benefits of cannabis.
I started like most European teenagers in the early 70s by smoking Hashish with a relatively small group of friends. Smoking cannabis was underground at that time; the Hippy movement was raging in California but just taking root in Europe. I had been dreaming of traveling the world since my early childhood, and Hashish was most certainly the defining catalyst of my nomadic years.
What parts of the world has following your love for cannabis taken you over the years, also where are you living now?
In my twenties, I spent some time in North Africa, passed a year in Mexico, before discovering India, Nepal and Pakistan. I met my wife in Nepal and she took me to Thailand, the Philippines and Japan. That began a period where I spent many years passing the season in Northern India, the winters in Goa and the rest of the year wandering around Asia. I currently live in the San Francisco Bay area of California in the USA.
Where did the name Frenchy Cannoli originate from?
Frenchy is a term of endearment for Frenchmen in most English-speaking countries. It is a practical nom de guerre, easy to remember and I do not have to spell it every time I am asked. The hashish cannoli was my trademark shape for a few years and the name just stuck.
You work with breeders and growers in California’s Emerald triangle. Can you explain to the European readers what the genetics and breeding facilities are like out there?
The genetics are so unique that they should be considered National Treasures, and I am not joking. They are “Heirloom Genetics”, plants that are not quite what their ancestors were, the land races from producing countries; they have adapted to their new habitat and have been transformed over the years into unique cultivars. The breeding facilities in the Emerald Triangle have always been outdoor and the breeding done by many. You simply made seeds for next season, part of every farmer’s life. The breeding and growing moved indoor during the peak of the War on Drugs in California, and lately most are done in greenhouses. You don’t really need fancy facilities to breed. You need talented breeders and awesome genetic material to work with. We have both in California.
Can you tell us more about your time in India and Nepal and what is a hashishin?
Hashishin was the term used by my Afghani friends to define a master Hashish maker. For me, today, a Hashishin is a person who dedicates his life to cannabis resin. India and Nepal were countries with different cannabis resin cultures. I had experienced Hashish in Europe before traveling to India but encountered a new form of resin collection at the feet of the Himalayas, Charas territory. The resin is collected live on the plants at the peak of flowering instead of sieved from dried and cured plants, a very different experience at many levels. It is magical to collect resin on the palm of your hands from wild cannabis plants growing high in the Himalayan mountains. The seasons I spent collecting resin in Northern India, in Malana and the Parvati Valley were filled with wonder and absolute pleasure.
Can you explain what Aficionado is?
Aficionado is a Mendocino seed company that breeds highly exclusive designer cannabis cultivars using Emerald Triangle heirloom genetics. Each release is unique and produced in limited quantities. I am their official Hashishin. My craft is the final expression of the quality they produce as breeders and farmers. I alone cannot create quality. I am dependent upon my cannabis farmers like a winemaker or a Grand Chef.
You offer classes to teach people to make the finest hashish. How long have you been doing that and what can readers do to find out more information?
I have been actively holding workshops for the past two years. I organize them monthly, mostly in California, however this year will be holding workshops in Barcelona as well. I announce the workshops through IG, and on the calendar page of my website www.frenchycannoli.com. Tickets are available for purchase through EventBrite.
What method of hash making is your preferred choice and when you make your hash, do you use fresh frozen or dry material?
I use a personalized ice-water sieving method, and I have custom-made tools as well. I work with fresh and dried material. I prefer my trim to be cured a minimum of three months and not simply dried. I also never freeze plant material when I work with the live plant. Plants are composed of over 80% water that is contained between cell walls. When water transforms into ice it expands 10% in mass which can shatter the cell walls and create leaf matter contamination in the final hashish product.
What is your opinion on pressing bubble hash in regards to the drying out process? There are mixed views on pressing delaying the drying out process and the final taste of the hash…
I have smoked some amazing aged Hashish, and once smoked a mind-blowing 12-year old Charas temple ball in Nepal, and have often personally experienced the transformation that happens to the resin during the first weeks after pressing to become a firm believer in the traditional methodologies that have stood the test of time, i.e. pressing is a critical and beneficial part of the hash-making process. I have searched for the science behind traditional Hashish and I am amazed by the intuitive depth of our ancestor’s knowledge. Scientific studies show pressed hashish offers a greater diversity in oxygenated terpenes than cannabis in the herb form. 50 new compounds from the monoterpene family are created in pressed hashish per one of the first comparative research studies done on the subject.
As a hash enthusiast, do you ever make extractions using solvents or are you strictly non-solvents?
As a Hashishin I do not extract. I sieve using ice cold water as a medium to facilitate the process which is vastly different from extracting. I keep the wholeness of the resin head when I press loose resin heads into Hashish, and when I age it I bring the resin to a new dimension of quality and “beingness” for the lack of a better word, very much like what is done with grapes to make wine. An extract is like the juice extracted from a fruit – it holds the essence of the fruit but it has lost the nourishing wholeness of the plant. To be clear – I never use solvents of any kind.
On your website www.frenchycannoli.com you have a ‘Resin Quality Scoring Sheet’. Can you break down for the extract enthusiasts just what that is?
This scoring system was created to go beyond scoring quality solely based on the “melt” as is done in the U.S. Melt is most definitely an important part of what defines quality. It represents the ripeness of the resin or how much resin was formed inside the resin heads. I believe that the amount of cannabinoids and terpenes and the width of their respective spectrums are important factors as well. Beyond the technical aspect of resin quality, we experience Hashish through our olfactory senses and palate; the smell, the taste, the intensity, the body and uniqueness of the resin should all be taken into consideration as dimensions of quality, very much again, like wine. I created the scoring criteria to reflect all of this.
As a master of hash making, what was the one strain that you worked with that made the best hash you have ever produced?
How could there be only one? I have a few favorites like the Pinot Noir from Aficionado, the Black Lime from Mean Gene from Mendocino, the MK Ultra from TH Seeds, Vortex and Jilly Bean from TGA. I love the Haze. I do like the Cookies. Kush and OG are often amazing. I love quality in all its diversity.
Over your history in cannabis and watching the criminal law change, what is your perspective on the current movement and how will it change over the next 3 years in terms of full legalization?
Cannabis legalization is happening and it will not be stopped. The abolition of cannabis prohibition has the potential to change the future of humanity and of the planet depending on our approach to producing and farming a plant that is a unique medicine, the most consumed recreational drug in human history, and an agricultural product with limitless potential, a solution for renewable energy, deforestation and pollution.
Many readers at home are still under the impressions Colorado is a weed haven. What are the current laws there and is it still the canna utopia that was once thought of?
Colorado was the breaking ground of adult-use legalization. The regulations are continually adapting to the evolution of the industry as a legal market at the State level while trying to keep the FEDs at a distance, and looking for a banking system. Coming out of prohibition is not an instant process.
What are you plans for the future and where can the readers discover your social media to follow your work?
I am creating a video of my Lost Art of the Hashishin workshop with a couple of young documentary filmmakers from Brooklyn, NY, Jake Remington and Lance Steagall. It will be posted for free access to my YouTube.com/c/FrenchyCannoli site for everyone’s use. We hope to have this completed by this Fall. I am also working on a book (or two), pushing my limits as a writer, while at the same time growing slowly the Frenchy Cannoli brand by producing only the highest quality Hashish. You can follow my work on Instagram @frenchycannoli. All my writings and the references used are available on my site: www.frenchycannoli.com
Thank you very much for your time and do you have any final messages you would like to say to our readers?
Cannabis is the key to the future of the planet. All of us that have been touched by the plant have become crusaders, we cannot be merely consumers anymore. Share the knowledge of the plant’s benefits, share the love! #fortheloveoftheplant.
By Stoney Tark