Marijuana and Food: How Chefs Feed the Munchies
The munchies are a well-documented phenomenon.
Generations of stoners, chemotherapy patients, and now a scientific study conducted under rigorous, double-blind controls can all confirm that smoking weed makes you hungry. And not regular hungry but craving food of the sweet, salty, or fatty variety.
Marijuana perks up the taste and hunger receptors in your brain and body in the same way as they are stimulated when you eat fatty foods. Flavors are heightened on the tongue, happy-making mood compounds course through your body, and your brain craves more, more, more. It's why you'll never stop at one french fry, and it's why even brownies made from a boxed mix will taste so damn good when you're stoned.
Chefs are often uniquely attuned to the cravings.
Restaurant workers and marijuana go together like salt and pepper, and many, many chefs blow off steam after a long shift in the kitchen by smoking a little dope and heading out to feed their munchies. Anthony Bourdain, who famously chronicled his own taste for drugs and debauchery, claims “There has been an entire strata of restaurants created by chefs to feed other chefs. These are restaurants created specially for the tastes of the slightly stoned, slightly drunk chef after work.”
The best munchies are familiar but with a twist, with big, contrasting flavors that go down easy. You don't want to be fussing with little fish bones or seeds or sorting through too much tableware. Soft is good, mushy is bad, and not so hot or cold as to startle.
Outstanding examples of the genre cited by New York chefs include the cereal milk soft-serve ice cream at Momofuku Milk Bar—a dessert based on the slightly sweet flavor of the milk left at the bottom of a cereal bowl; the breakfast burrito pizza at Roberta’s in Bushwick, Brooklyn; and the deep-fried cheese steak hot dog served at Crif Dogs in the East Village.
On the West Coast, Los Angeles chefs are fans of the fleet of Kogi Korean taco trucks circulating through the city, and they single out the French-Canadian dish poutine as served at Los Angeles' Animal, combining french fries and cheddar cheese doused in oxtail gravy. San Francisco has the haute stoner dish known as the Lincecum, named for Tim Lincecum, the famously toking star pitcher for the Giants. At the Ritz-Carlton dining room it's served as quail eggs and caviar sealed in a porcelain bowl with billowing smoke that's pumped in by a fan-driven bong.
When it comes to munchies from the home kitchen, even the professionals go for quick, easy, and familiar. Grilled cheese sandwiches are a chef's favorite, as is oatmeal with sweet and crunchy toppings like toasted nuts and caramelized bananas. Top Chef's Betty Fraser has some sound advice (that has the ring of experience) to go along with her favorite at-home treat: “If you want to blow your friends’ minds grab some cookie dough, crush a package of pretzels or potato chips, roll the dough around until it’s covered and then bake. Here’s a Professional Chef Tip: Turn off the oven when you’re done.”
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