It should come as no surprise to anyone that infusing cannabis into exquisite culinary dishes would eventually occur and become, not necessarily fashionable, but an important mode of cannabis consumption. Cooking is an art—a sensuous, satiating enterprise, swirling in a myriad of colours and textures. Adding cannabis to your sumptuous courses only deepens the art of culinary adventure.
From the rudimentary, go-to edibles (brownies, anyone?) to chocolate bars and gummies, infusing cannabis has roots in food. The problematic things, of course, were that the food often fell on the sugary side, masking the strong flavours and smells of the cannabis—not particularly branching out in innovation—and that the science of dosing was not as precise as it is now. Decarbing, for example, through heat (a low temperature in an oven over several hours) to further heighten the sensations cannabis gives its user and extract flavour was not a vital cooking process until recently.
For Laurent Dagenais, a former fine dining chef and current host of The Terpenes, a short YouTube cannabis cooking show, cooking with the substance became not just a necessary part of his own health but a way for him to stretch his creative culinary brain and share wisdom for anyone interested in the practice.
Dagenais has worked in fine-dining restaurants in Quebec and British Columbia, moving further up the chain to learn how to master his own kitchen. But it was in Whistler, BC, when he suffered a broken wrist with a prolonged time away from the kitchen, that his view changed on his career and on how cannabis could be a part of his life, personally and professionally.
“I started seeing cannabis as more than just a recreational drug,” Dagenais says, “I started using [it] to deal with the pain. I had a pretty big surgery. I had metal plates in my wrist and everything. [Cannabis] really helped me to get through the recovery process.”
Dagenais merged his passion for cooking with a newfound enthusiasm for including cannabis in his life. He’s been producing videos for almost a year now, featuring mouth-watering dishes like cannabis-infused prawn risotto, sweet corn gazpacho, and caramel popcorn. It was this popcorn, he says, laughing, that led his mother and his aunt to sleepily miss one Christmas event. “They asked me for my caramel popcorn…[to have before] the Christmas dinner. A few bites of popcorn before dinner and they ended up, not greening out, but going to bed at 8:30 pm and missing the whole dinner,” he says. “They didn’t feel bad but were super tired for some reason.”
Their experience underscores the point that dosing is important. If you were to throw a dinner party, or even have some of Dagenais’ caramel popcorn, providing the correct dosage of cannabis and strain are vital. There are charts available about how much to include in your dishes but Dagenais has a few other easy tips that can make the whole process more intuitive.
- Try the smallest dosage first. “Start with a smaller quantity. I would go with the minimal dosage. [These charts will help you determine] a good amount to start with.”
- Don’t have an empty stomach. “If you’re going to start for the first time, eat before you eat. On an empty stomach, [cannabis] is going to make the effects way more powerful.”
- No alcohol. “I would not mix edibles with alcohol to start with. It’s one thing to smoke a joint and have a beer. Mixing alcohol with edibles is a whole different game because it can really get the effects to be… stronger. I would stay away from the booze.”
If you’re having a party, ask for details. “If you’re hosting an infused dinner, ask all your guests what their tolerance is. If it’s the first time they are trying edibles and coming to dinner, I would personalize every plate. If you have 20 guests, you can easily personalize every plate.”
Cooking recreationally, like consuming cannabis, is meant to be a fun endeavour. Most importantly, says Dagenais, remain calm. “Listen to your body. Don’t [eat infused foods] in an environment where it could be stressful or where there are a lot of strangers.”