Making History: Bong Appétit

As part of my studies in History of Quality, I had to write about the origins of a food item and also an iconic cookbook. Given the shock value and the fairly recent legalization and embracement of cannabis in Canada, I thought what better cookbook to analyze than Bong Appétit: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Weed?!


Published in 2018 by a group of American editors from the MUNCHIES and Viceland television series of the same name, the colourful and aesthetic cookbook features 65 cannabis-inspired creations. Along with a plethora of cannabis infusions like weed-laced negroni, there are also funky recipes like sweet potato skins with pancetta and chipotle crema, North African broccoli salad and cannabis leaf pesto that span across different cultural cuisines, perpetuating the idea that anyone and everyone can cook with cannabis.


Essentially, this book takes cooking with cannabis into another realm that extends beyond Mary Rathburn’s pot brownies. The recipes featured catch attention regardless of each recipe’s “fun” focal ingredient. Another unique attribute is that each recipe lists how much THC is used and of course tested so that home cooks can enjoy the dining experience without experiencing an intense high.


Though written and published for an American audience, not all U.S. states have adopted the legalization of recreational marijuana with the exception of some west coast states in recent years. That said, Bong Appétit was plastered in every book shop window I walked past following the Canadian legalization in 2018. Rapidly gaining interest thanks to availability, cooking with weed isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is definitely gaining interest.


Eating cannabis actually dates back to the Stone Age when early humans began to forage. In the Islamic Golden Age, the presence of mahjoun, a cannabis confection mixed with spices and sweeteners, was also noted. The medieval times instead saw written references of cannabis as medicine to ward off pain or act as an aphrodisiac. Even in early renaissance, there’s mention of edibles by Platina in On Honorable Pleasure and Health to cure stomach aches.


Naturally, the opening of the Netherland’s first cannabis coffee shop in 1972 where they sold space cakes was another giant leap for cannabis cuisine. With books like The Ganja Kitchen Revolution (2012) and new techniques like Sous Weed (2015), there’s been an increase in cooking with cannabis that has inspired many. In fact, I’ve noticed that in my native Toronto, several cannabis-inspired cafes, bars and catering companies launched shortly after legalization.


What’s interesting to note is that the stigma surrounding weed is changing drastically. Though cannabis is a widely used drug in the developed world, it’s often associated with negative social and economic outcomes. However, with consumer demand for sustainable, healthy foods that are also innovative and can grow with the desires of the consumer, this idea is changing. Recent surveys show that consumers are willing to consider cannabis-infused products, this means that more companies have also shown more interest towards developing new food products, using cannabis as an ingredient using a functional food strategy that positions cannabis as having an added nutritional and medicinal value.


The cool thing about Bong Appétit is that it challenges the idea of “stoner cooking” and instead presents a refined text that is clean, simple and helpful for novices and seasoned stoners alike without judgement, but simply a call to inspire creativity in the kitchen!


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Would you try whipping up some of the recipes in Bong Appétit?

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