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Is Marijuana the Secret Ingredient of Truly Innovative Food?

Is Marijuana the Secret Ingredient of Truly Innovative Food?

When I was young, and in relatively close proximity to those who indulged in the smoking of marijuana, I came across a lot of entertainingly odd behavior and just as much entertainingly odd food. My recollections from those days involved dear friends who, upon smoking out, had lost all inhibition and gained a capricious and irrational hunger. There were the apple and cheddar microwave quesadillas topped with Trader Joe’s guacamole. There was the mac n’ cheese mixed with canned tuna and capers served along with an ice-cold can of Budweiser. And then there were the breakfast cookies made with oatmeal and bacon (those were actually kind of good and strangely addictive). Like it or not, smoking pot seemed to serve as a sort of munchies-inducing muse for demented home chefs with a few spare ingredients within easy reach.

Remembering these moments, I was deeply entertained by a recent story in the New York Times titled “Marijuana Fuels a New Kitchen Culture.” The piece contends that marijuana is inspiring chefs and restaurants to create a new kind of cuisine, and utilizing snack-sized interviews with a few chefs who are “unabashedly open about marijuana’s role in their creative and recreational lives and its effect on their restaurants.” Now to be clear the article is not about how chefs cook with marijuana or even cook while under the influence, this is more about how the after-hours indulgence plays muse to the already innovative and creative mind of the chef. It inspires creativity and stimulates the appetite for a certain kind of food experience (i.e. munchies-friendly grub).

Now I had a few problems with this article for many reasons, and not because I take issue with chefs who wake and bake (so to speak). Largely this was billed as a trend piece about how marijuana is now informing and influencing our dining and menu options, which to me this is hardly a trend. I won’t be so presumptuous as to say that all chefs and restaurant workers smoke pot, but I will say that the vast majority have been at it for a while and the idea of altered states of consciousness influencing art, food, and creation for that matter is hardly a new one. If anything, this is a standard practice, not an emerging trend.

Journalistic issues aside, the piece moved me to reflect on how elusive and mysterious true creativity can be, as well as the differences between a truly good idea and the forgettable musings of a stoner–especially relative to food. There is no arguing that marijuana is both stimulating to the appetite as well as the brain, but does this stimulation really amount to creativity? Isn’t it true that creative people are generally creative when buzzed on pot or tipsy, whereas noncreative people are generally noncreative when buzzed on pot or tipsy, but hold onto the illusion that peanut butter sushi is a good idea?

What do you think? Does marijuana (or any substance that produces an altered state of consciousness) really stimulate creativity in the kitchen…or elsewhere? Have you had personal experience along these lines? Care to share a recipe?

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

170 comments

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9:41AM PST on Dec 18, 2012

thanks for sharing

4:50PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thank you for the article:)

12:54AM PDT on Aug 25, 2011

Thanks Eric.

5:41AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:44AM PDT on May 13, 2011

THANK YOU

3:27PM PDT on May 11, 2011

well, it makes me way more creative than to begin with lol

8:15PM PDT on Apr 15, 2011

I cant believe were having this conversation.

2:35PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

cannabis is one of the best thangs for your body. Your body makes cannabinoids. And if you whould like more info there is a documentary called The Union & if you want to see more theres a doc called American's War on drug's , there both eye opening documentary 's.PEACE ,LOVE & FREEDOM to the PEOPLE!

1:14PM PST on Feb 14, 2011

Pot only increases creativity if you are creative to begin with.It is a great pain reliever,good for many problems.It also helps with panic disorders.
I would not say it makes anyone better in the kitchen though. If you have the munchies,it doesn't matter if something is really good,as long as it's food.
I would not advice going to work high to anyone,in any line of work.

6:05PM PST on Feb 13, 2011

Antoinette Reyes is really ****ing smart! Truly a lady who has not fried her brain on weed.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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OK .... when the snow leaves!!!

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Great ideas thanks.

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