NEW YORK: 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.