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High Cuisine: The Cannabis Cookbook

by Barbara Lamb

Rumour has it that food becomes more enjoyable when one is stoned on cannabis, the so-called “munchies.” Truth is, being high doesn’t affect food, just objectivity. A dry saltina is a dry saltina. That it is likely to fascinate a stoned person only shows that the “munchies” are simply chemically lowered standards. Thus it’s not surprising that High Cuisine, which bills itself as the cannabis cookbook, offers such uninspired and lacklustre recipes. The disappointing objective here is to get high on pot, not, apparently, on deliciously fine cooking, too.

Indeed, many of author Barbara Lamb’s recipes are hotelishly old fashioned, and her instuctions are often amateurish. Sauces, for example, are typically thickened with flour; bread crumbs are used liberally to bind; for lasagna, “any four cheeses will do”; and pesto, which normally requires the lightest of touches, is processed “to a paste.”

Lamb, of whom little is known (the book conspicuously lacks an author bio), fares slightly better with non-western dishes and desserts; but creatively, High Cuisine pales next to inspired, pot-free cookbooks such as Karen Barnaby’s Pacific Passions.

Some may, however, find this book at least useful. Pot is, of course, illegal in Canada. But, as Lamb points out, certain cancer, glaucoma, and other patients use cannabis legally. Since smoking pot damages the lungs, it’s to such users that High Cuisine will offer some benefit. With a meticulousness that would have benefited the entire book, Lamb explains how to make, and cook with, “browned cannabis.”

But since there are too few patients to form a legal audience, High Cuisine slips into the protest/joke category. Protest, because by tacitly advocating illegal activity it opposes repressiveness in our society (arguably, marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol). Joke because, as a cookbook, it has trouble taking itself seriously, likely because it’s equally difficult to take this largely hedonistic protest seriously. Remove the pot from High Cuisine, and you get low-grade leftovers. The ironic truth is, this cookbook isn’t hedonistic enough.