Ricardo Baca, the founding editor of the Cannabist, told me, “Laurie [Wolf] represents a voice in the food-and-cannabis space that can be trusted.” Her columns are full of global ingredients and lush food photography meant to attract what she calls “the CB2 and West Elm crowd.” Her books would not seem out of place on the shelf next to the latest tome from the Barefoot Contessa or Yotam Ottolenghi. Evan Senn, the editor of the California-based cannabis magazine Culture, told me that, increasingly, foodies are the target audience for pot. “I love to drink wine, and I’m kind of a snob about it,” she said. “I’m not going to drink Franzia out of a cardboard box. I’m going to buy a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and aerate it and enjoy it. I have the same approach to edibles.”But there's one big difference: Cannabis doesn't taste good. All the recipes are about disguising the flavor and smell. (Many are also impaired by the need to avoid deactivating the ingredient by getting it too hot.)
I read The New Yorker a lot, and this is one of the articles that make me think the magazine isn't for people like me — people who want more raw intelligence and edge — but for people who really want to be shown how to happily enjoy a bourgeois lifestyle. These are the people for whom Laurie Wolf manufactures "gourmet" marijuana foods. I wish I could feel that Widdicombe wrote "marijuana-free chicken Marbella and couscous, paired with infused sides and appetizers" with some comic intent, but I don't think she did.
But she does let it show that the food-prep problem here is that you're trying to force in an ingredient that you actually don't want there for any food-related purpose:
Wolf pulled a Mason jar of infused olive oil from a shelf and encouraged me to smell it. It had a powerfully green scent. “Olive oil infuses beautifully,” she said. “It’s very earthy.” A jar of infused canola oil, on the other hand, smelled like bong water. Wolf had used the infused olive oil to make the stuffed mushrooms as well as a spinach tart. Those who wanted even more weed could slather their food with an infused feta sauce made with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and red onion. “Strong flavors help conceal the taste,” Wolf said. “It is a challenge to keep the foods from tasting like cannabis. That’s probably the hardest thing about making edibles.” Dessert was a “mildly infused” strawberry trifle in a big glass bowl. For palate cleansers, there were frozen grapes—an old standby for Wolf. “They’re wonderful when people get stoned,” she explained.A guest shows up who claims to be "not really an eater," which I found funny, even though I can't tell if that person just meant she doesn't use eating as her method of getting cannabis into her body or whether it's a more general way of life, a kind of euphemism for anorexia. I thought it was funny because I assumed the latter, but now I think it's the former. The woman goes on to say "Joints, vape pens. I like the patch a lot."
People want cannabis for the feeling it gives them, and they can get it various ways that don't require eating it, so if it tastes bad, why put it in food?! I think the answer is right there in that "Martha Stewart" idea, that vision of The New Yorker that puts me off. There are people — probably mostly women — who want to think they of themselves as appreciating the finer pleasures of life, and maybe that desire is heightened when they approach a psychoactive substance. They don't want the stark confrontation with getting high — they're not that kind of girl — but need to see themselves as involved in something more complex and tasteful.