The first edition of “The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, ” in 1954, censored the recipe for “Haschich Fudge.” (It made it into the paperback, in 1960, and from there more chocolate-y, childlike versions entered the repertoires of hosts everywhere.) The recipe, which Toklas attributes to her friend Brion Gysin, contains a sly warning about sourcing: “Obtaining the canibus may present certain difficulties, but the variety known as canibus sativa grows as a common weed, often unrecognized, everywhere in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa; besides being cultivated as a crop for the manufacture of rope. In the Americas, while often discouraged, its cousin, called canibus indica, has been observed even in city window boxes.”
The recipe, in case you don’t remember it, is very mid-century and fruitcake-esque; crushed dates, figs, almonds, and peanuts, sprinkled with nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and cannabis, and rolled into balls. I asked my friend, Laurent Quenioux, a shameless raider of window boxes—a man who once cooked his neighbor’s chicken when it wandered into his back yard—if he could provide a cannabis recipe more suited to the times.
I met Laurent reporting a piece on the food movement’s embrace of edible insects; he took me on a run to the border to collect ant larvae, which he later cooked and served at his pop-up restaurant. On the way, he told me that it was his dream to explore the culinary potential of marijuana—marijuana as a flavor, rather than as a means to an end. Its legal status—a gray area in California, where we both live—was beside the point.
He spent the next year sourcing ingredients: marijuana from a suburban grow house, angelica root, and wolfberries from a Chinese apothecary in the San Gabriel Valley. (He opened the inquiry to other medicinal herbs.) He planned a party: a secret dinner for super-adventurous eaters, designed to broaden people’s minds about what is edible and what is delicious. And he tested recipes. One day, hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant that housed his pop-up—a restaurant that had started as an illegal underground supper club—I smelled something outrageous. In my book, “Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture,” I describe the smell as a Jamaican beach: pot smoke and Bain de Soleil.
This is what it was:
Underground Pop-Up Weed-Dinner Green Congee
1 pound net filet of Atlantic Monkfish
2 tablespoons of infused cannabis coconut butter
1 bunch basil
1 bunch epazote
1 bunch of fresh cannabis leaves
1 bunch of spinach
8 tablespoons of infused Cannabis oil
Salt, pepper to taste
3 cloves of fresh garlic
1 pound of ready-to-use cooked congee
2 tablespoons of butter
In a saucepan, blanch all leaves (epazote, basil, spinach, cannabis) for two minutes, then drain and cool. In a blender, add the blanched leaves, salt and pepper, garlic, 3 three tablespoons of water, and 8 tablespoon of oil, and blend until the mixture is a smooth consistency.
Warm up slowly the congee and stir frequently.
Cut the monkfish in four nice pieces, season with salt and pepper, and sauteé for 3 minutes on each side in a saucepan with the coconut butter. Mix the pesto into the congee and add the butter.
Spoon the cannabis congee into a shallow bowl and top with the sautéed monkfish; decorate with a fresh cannabis leaf.
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