Is Legal Pot a Boon for Foodies?

In 1954 the world gained The Alice B Tolklas Cookbook, the original source of "pot brownies.” I looked up the recipe, which is actually for “Haschich Fudge.” The first thing I noticed was that there isn’t any chocolate in sight. The ingredients are brown sugar, butter, almonds, dates, figs, and cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns, and cannabis sativa leaves. To me, Toklas “fudge” sounds spicy, sweet, herbal and delicious. I can imagine the grassy sweetness of the cannabis playing off the nutmeg and peppercorns, not hiding under, but adding to the flavor of the fudge.

Chocolate is known as an effective mask for marijuana, a thick flavor to sneak pot under when the goal is to get high. But what if masking the flavor, and getting high--is not the point. Washington State’s legalization of marijuana could be a boon for foodies too. Maybe what we have here is a new gourmet ingredient.

In 2004, Jeremiah Towers, formerly of Chez Pannise, published a recipe for Consommé of Marijuana, a simple clear highbrow soup designed to highlight the herbs flavors. The recipe calls for cannabis leaves steeped in organic chicken stock and covered with a delicate chiffonade of nasturtium flowers and basil leaves. Last year Jonathan Gold of the LA Times wrote about a nine-course marijuana tasting meal, where the herb appeared as an part of the cocktails, infused in sesame oil, and pureed under monkfish. At another secret ‘weed’ themed dinner last summer for the writers of GQ a diner described a dish with Meyer lemon zest, sea salt, crushed fennel and weed: “This dish immediately revealed the true potential of pot as a cooking herb. The flavor was smoky and sort of exotic and mixed perfectly with the notoriously oily bluefish, softening its inherent fishiness with just the right amount of garden notes.”

Marijuana has long been a culinary ingredient in Southeast Asia. Which led me to James Beard Award winning chef Jerry Traunfeld, author of The Herbfarm Cookbook and owner of the Southeast Asian inspired Poppy in Capitol Hill.

Traunfeld is familiar with cannabis as a culinary herb but confessed that he has not yet experimented with it in the kitchen. Despite last year’s legalization, he pointed out that pot still can’t be used legally in restaurant cooking. Besides that, he said: “I don’t think anyone is growing stains for flavor rather than potency. If you used what is sold these days for smoking, as a seasoning, you’d be flying after a few bites.”

Still, he said, “I’d love to play around with the flavor if culinary strains were available. I can taste it in my mind in carrot soup, maybe with orange and coriander.”

 
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