Higher culinary standards

New cannabis cookbook featuring Sacramento chef embraces foodie culture

California cannabis cuisine is taking flight this spring with the publication of The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook, which recently hit Amazon.com and bookstores. The mainstream-looking gourmet cookbook is elegantly designed, containing more than 50 recipes that will entice amateurs, challenge top chefs and raise the bar for the once-dark art of ganja gastronomy, says author Elise McDonough, who is also a High Times magazine designer and avowed foodie.

At the same time, mainstream America appears to be highly receptive to cannabis cooking, judging by the release of another pot cookbook, The Cannabis Gourmet Cookbook, and the reception “medibles” are getting in the press. SF Weekly is hiring a freelance weed food blogger. On April 7, Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold sampled and reported on a nine-course gourmet cannabis meal served by chefs Nguyen Tran and Laurent Quenioux.

“I think the time is right for these cookbooks,” said Ed Murrieta, a Sacramento chef and author who writes about the topic. Two of Murrieta’s weed recipes appear in The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: vegan cannabis carrot muffins and chewy cannabis caramels.

Judging by some of the uninspiring treats available at medical-cannabis dispensaries, the game could use some elevating, too. “I see those rainbow-colored crispy treats and I just gag,” Murrieta added, referring to offerings in some Sacramento dispensaries.

Edible cannabis can be effective for many people, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia sufferers, chemotherapy patients, and those with chronic pain. “My dad is in an Alzheimer’s facility,” said Murrieta.

His dad loves KFC biscuits, so the California Culinary Academy graduate doped up some faux ones.

“The next day I asked him how the biscuits were. He said, ‘Oh, I slept so good,’” Murrieta continued.

Murrieta added that eating cannabis is not like sparking up a joint. “You’re going to experience a minor euphoria in your head,” he said. “You’re really going to experience major euphoria in your body, your limbs become looser, back pain is likely going to be eased up a bit to a great deal.”

But “sometimes it can be rather unpleasant if you eat too much,” McDonough said. “You can become disoriented, and lose motor control.” She explained that it’s important to lay down and relax if you eat too much medical cannabis.

Meanwhile, the federal crackdown on California’s medical-cannabis industry is slowing down dosage standardization, operators say. And targeting dispensaries, as the feds have been doing, can also be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook’s DIY message.

“We want people to be able to be self-sufficient, we want them to have information to do it correctly, safely and have it be delicious as well,” McDonough said.