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Pairing pot: What marijuana is right for your meal?

When it comes to weed, effect is more important than flavor

When it comes to critiquing alcoholic beverages, most of the focus is on how it tastes. Sometime color comes into play, or body or texture, and not infrequently a drink’s history makes it into a review, but what critics don’t tend to write about is what kind of drunk it gets you.

That might be because, despite anecdotal evidence that tequila makes you wild and red wine makes you sleepy and whiskey makes you belligerent, scientists insist that ethanol is ethanol and drunk is drunk. If rum makes you feel sexy, it’s more likely that you order rum drinks when you’re in the mood to feel sexy than that it’s rum specifically that makes you feel that way.

That’s not so when it comes to marijuana. Different strains have different effects, with some being more energizing and others more drowsy-making.

It’s more complicated than that, of course, and that previous sentence probably reads to marijuana aficionados as if I’d just written “some wines are red and others are white.” But it means that new language and protocols are emerging to discuss marijuana as it’s becoming legal in a growing number of jurisdictions.

So Jake Browne, who until late last year was the Cannabis critic for The Denver Post, has written descriptions like this one from a review of pot by the name of Bio-Diesel:

“Instead of the initial euphoria of Sour Diesel that can peter out for those with high tolerances, the addition of Sensi Star gave a balance and a body to the buzz.” 

On the other hand, he had this to say about Grandaddy Purple:

“Initially, the Granddaddy gave me a nice uptick of energy that had me pondering a walk with our Sheltie on the relatively balmy 34 degree afternoon. It was a lofty goal. I could string together the concepts — like socks before shoes — but by the time I made it to the shoes, where had the socks gone? This continued for longer than I’d care to admit.”

Now that chefs are exploring how weed might go together with their food, some are working out pairing sequences based not on how the different marijuana strains taste, but the effect they’ll likely have on their guests. 

Or at least one is: Chris Sayegh, aka The Herbal Chef, who shared his approach with attendees of the American Culinary Federation conference in New Orleans this summer.

Sayegh doesn’t use just any marijuana, because dosing’s important. Just as you can’t serve vodka shots with every course and expect your guests to remain composed, you have to ease them into their marijuana high, especially since when pot, or lab-tested extracts of it like Sayegh uses, is eaten, it takes around 45 minutes to 90 minutes to take effect, and when it does hit it hits rather suddenly.  

At Sayegh’s meals, guests get around 10 milligrams each of THC, the euphoria-inducing chemical in cannabis that makes people feel high, and CBD, which is highly regarded for its medicinal qualities and smooths out the effects of the THC, enhancing calm over edginess, he told ACF attendees.

He spreads out those 10 milligrams over the course of the meal, front-loading with THC so his guests feel a nice sense of well-being by the fourth course, and then the CBD gives them a sense of peacefulness to round out the evening.

Sayegh said he is also experimenting with CBN, the compound in pot that makes people sleepy, and various terpenes, which are aromatic components found in cannabis (and elsewhere) that scientists are still learning about but that The Herbal Chef says induce different moods.

The chef couches all of this in the context of herbal healing, and he said he’s actually working with the ACF to develop some sort of certification around working with cannabis derivatives.

If you feel like experimenting with this at your own operations, talk to your lawyer first. Even in jurisdictions where cannabis is now legal for recreational use, it’s still regulated. You can’t serve alcohol without a liquor license, and although regulations for pot are still falling into place, unlicensed marijuana service could get you into trouble.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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