How to Be a Pothead Without Eating Like One

The Intolerable Foodie talks tokes for toques

There are many reasons I never became a stoner, but seeing people reduced to eating Combos is pretty far up the list. If alcohol caused people to tear open Lunchables with their bare teeth, I would rip out my entire wine cellar.

Yet there are occasions when I long for the medical effects of marijuana, such as when I’m suffering from a lack of appetite during the first half of the tasting menu at the French Laundry. Or when I’m at a party where the hosts are only serving bottles with labels featuring ravens and crests and I need to find a way to endure the guests’ conversations about cooking shows.

I do not smoke, since I am not 19 years old or in a local production of Grease, and the few marijuana-infused foods I’ve eaten were disappointing. Mostly because the baker kept repeating that I must eat “like, dude, like an eighth of a brownie, seriously.” These were brownies only in the way that a vehicle for delivering a file to a prisoner is a cake. Every time I’ve eaten a pot brownie, I’ve wound up consuming many more nonpot brownies. Not because of the munchies—simply because I felt cheated.

But now, finally, real chefs are using pot to cook with instead of what they usually do, which is smoke it. Rather than mask its flavor with sugar, a few are utilizing the herbal, grassy, autumnal, disgusting taste of marijuana to accent their food, much like they use cilantro.

Rob Weakley, who was a cofounder of Faith & Flower and the Los Angeles Food & Wine festival, started a company in Salinas called Altai. Its confections are distributed in L.A. by Greenly, a marijuana delivery service that I’m hoping hires people who don’t come into your house and talk to you for hours about how great the movie Friday was. Altai sells delicious sea salt-and-caramel truffles and bars made of 65 percent cacao chocolate from Peru that are laced with ten milligrams of THC, giving them a powerful Earl Grey jolt on the front end before smoothing out in the middle. They also made me sleep for 12 hours.

Next summer, when I lower the table in my box at the Bowl, I might occasionally exchange my bottle of burgundy for one of Altai’s Tahitian vanilla-sea salt-caramel bars. I’m going to fall asleep there anyway.