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Beyond Pot Brownies (with Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad)

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Aug 22, 2016

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Ronni is a pastry chef at one of New York City's top bakeries. On the side, she's part of a fast-growing, new culinary industry: cannabis cuisine.

"I'm basically using the skills I learned as a pastry chef to have some fun," Ronni says of her cannabis-infused gourmet baked goods. (Note: Ronni isn't her real name.)

For now her hobby is on the down low, but the food world taking edibles mainstream. In the first year after legalization in Colorado, nearly 3 million edible marijuana products were sold in retail stores. Cookbooks from major publishers are in the works. And seasoned chefs are leaving good restaurants for a new experience, and a big payday.

But, ever the buzzkill, the New York Times says there are two problems:

1. It's very hard to control how high people get when they eat marijuana.

2. It really doesn't taste that good.

WeedCooking_miggslives

This week on The Sporkful podcast, we set out to find edibles that provide a pleasant high and a great eating experience -- with a little help from our friends at Radiolab (who've been known to enjoy a good experiment) and some experts on the science and art of cooking with cannabis.

When Chef Ronni arrived with her incredible, four-course spread of sweet and savory, weed-infused dishes, we thought our dream had come true. She had decadent banana cream pie...

WhoopiePie

...salty zucchini pancakes, and garlic bread brushed with cannabis-infused olive oil served with a weed-infused balsamic vinaigrette for dipping. She even made Cheez-Its tossed in cannabis-infused oil for snacking between courses:

CheezIts

The earthy, herby flavor of marijuana was definitely there, but it was mild. Ronni succeeded in making weed delicious.

But we found ourselves still unsure of its place in the eating world.

"It’s an interesting tension about whether this is a delivery system or enjoyable in its own right," Radiolab Senior Editor Soren Wheeler noted. "Whether you would decide that weed, itself, is part of what makes the taste enjoyable."

Here's the other big thing. When you eat marijuana (rather than smoking), it travels through the digestive system before the psychotropic effects set in. That means it takes a long time before it kicks in. But when something tastes really good it's very hard to know when to stop eating.

And that's the problem we ran into.

You'll have to listen to the full episode to hear what happened to us, but Radiolab host Jad Abumrad summed it up pretty well a few days later:

"Every time I blinked I literally would forget where I was. The continuity that is the thread of life was gone and it stayed gone for a whole day and a half."

BlackHole_NASA

Who's to blame here? Was Ronni too careless about her dosage, or were we too gluttonous in our eating?

Is consistent and controlled cannabis cuisine simply a pipe dream?

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

This is a rebroadcast of an earlier episode.

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

- "Private Detective" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Midnight Grind" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Steady" by Cullen Fitzpatrick

- "Fresh Air" by Erick Anderson

Photos: Dan Pashman; FlickrCC/Rafael Castillo; FlickrCC/Sarah; FlickrCC/nicole; FlickrCC/Link Observatory Space Science Institute

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