I had a friend who, desperate with the munchies in his dorm room at a delivery-optionless hour, nearly killed himself trying to open a can of baked beans with a pocket knife. I imagine that he was very frightened as he stabbed at the metal lid in vain—that's not an activity you should engage in while under the influence of anything (of course, that’s the only time you would do it). He probably took some breaks to stand over the mini-fridge in a panic, wondering whether to proceed. Maybe he worried he would die of a heart attack. Or perhaps his fingers would fly off, blood and beans fraternizing in his palms, lightning bolts of pain shooting out of his eyes.
He finally pried off the lid, but he didn’t have a clean microwaveable bowl and didn’t want to disturb his roommate washing another one, so he just went to bed. That happens.
The perils of eating high are profound. There have been times when the pizza has arrived and one rogue pepperoni just looks too Ren and Stimpy. I will never order pizza from that place again. If you’re stoned and you can’t bear to eat a pizza, something is wrong—but this story does not end with pizza. Food malformations are even more inedible when you’re high. An errant vein or a stubborn hunk of gristle cannot be forgiven.
Suddenly, the whole act of eating becomes disgusting. It isn’t the one pepperoni. It’s all pepperoni. What is pepperoni? Where did this particular log come from and what are all those colors? Why should it be so colorful? Is it high-grade? Is even high-grade pepperoni full of upsetting textural surprises, and what about—again, I know, but for real this time—becoming a vegetarian?
Sober, you happily devour bacon cheeseburgers and gnaw at ribs. High, an offensive pepperoni is balled in a napkin and carefully disposed of onto the coffee table. Tomorrow it will seem less disgusting. Yes, the munchies are an enigma best unpacked while sober, when reading about your hypothalamus and endocannabinoid receptors won’t make your brain evaporate into the cycle of thinking about itself (and thinking about thinking about itself).
But when executed correctly, eating while high can unwrap the modern tangle of our relationship to sustenance. It overrides our diet, forces us to reconsider our hatred of olives, and compels us to create bowls of simultaneously creamy and crunchy things that we would otherwise never admit to eating. I, however, am about to admit to consuming the gnarliest collections of sludge, all in the interest of open-source community knowledge.
I am up to the challenge: I have seasoned an ageless slice of American cheese with lemon zest and balsamic vinegar. I have covered frozen butter with sugar and called it “Eskimo Frosting.” I once consumed a chocolate bar melted in a bowl with butter, crackers and marshmallows, topped with three chunky varieties of ice cream and garnished with a single stale potato chip.
Proceed with caution: these are the good, the bad, and the ugliest plates to emerge from my kitchen between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Sausage. In breakfast sandwiches, on a roll, even in hot dogs (the smooth sausage). Hyper-aware of textures? Detour! Detour! You are bound to pause mid-bite and think, “What was that?” When you realize what that was, you will long for the innocence of five minutes ago.
Party ramen. Here is something I made once, in a dark moment: ramen with leftovers mixed in. The leftovers, if you’re curious, were pulled pork, raw carrots, an egg, a heel of bread, sliced cold cuts, and pepperoncinis, plus some maple-glazed bacon and a sprinkle of cabbage. Surveying the results, I thought, "What’s the difference between staring at this and peering into my garbage disposal?" The answer was wet canned cat food, but when I looked deeply into my bowl, I was sure I could see some Ocean Fish Feast in there, or at least its spiritual twin. I didn’t throw up, but I thought about it.
Powdered milk. The only circumstance under which you should ever consume powdered milk is after mixing it with equal parts peanut butter and honey, forming it into balls, and refrigerating it (this is a very good snack, by the way).
Cereal with fruit. They say that the compounds in marijuana make a person particularly prone to craving sweets. They don’t say anything about how our people love to shovel things from a bowl without having to expend serious energy cutting stuff up, but that is also true. Cracklin’ Oat Bran nuked for 30 seconds is a special treat, but the inclusion of fruit does wonders for the mind cycle. Those raspberries had a nice life. They ripened in the sun. “Oooh,” you hear yourself say, “I could make wine with them.” Yes, you could make wine with them. For a while, maybe the duration of The Voice finale, you eat all of the fresh and frozen fruit in your kitchen, including raisins, which you think of as little balls of grape jerky until the phrase “rabbit turds” sneaks in like the familiar enjoyment-robber it is and you’re preheating your oven to 250 to bake kale chips.
Cheese plate. If you’re serious about your snacking, you can’t beat the variety offered by a plate of salty friends dancing the polka with some sweet outliers to the tune of your diverse cravings. I’m talking Triscuits. I’m talking sharp cheddar. I’m talking Reese’s peanut butter cups and the realization that, no, they are not out of place. They’re right where they belong. A ramekin of Skittles, some toast, holler at me quince paste. I call it a cheese plate, but it also answers to the “everything in your fridge” plate. As long as nothing touches each other before they’re inside you, of course we can invite both guacamole and a waffle with syrup to the same party.
Roasted vegetables with caramelized shallots. One thing you never really feel like eating when you’re high (or for 75 percent of us, ever) is vegetables. At the same time, meat can be a challenge to prepare when you’re inclined to mistrust your own judgment about the doneness of chicken or the temperature at which the plague is destroyed by heat (don’t go there until later when you’re reading about your brain). The trick here is the shallots: they add a sweet, crunchy-fried element that says, “This is a plate of junk food. Inhale it.”
Every healthy item in your house. I can appreciate the potent bliss that comes from smoking weed and engaging in an activity that feels physically beneficial. That’s why Frisbee is a good time: You do it slowly, often in sunglasses. If you are physically lazy, a wonderful alternative to this kind of exertion is to eat a spread of assorted health foods and force yourself to drink coconut water kefir every so often while you listen to atonal music. It’s nice to do this with a vaporizer because then you can really be smug about your health without ever having to move from the sofa. If you’re stoned enough, you can have a dialogue with your spine and see if the power of thought is strong enough to crack your back while you force down another Dixie Cup of sour probiotics and a Flintstones vitamin, and you will experience something resembling pleasure. But no matter what, it’s always safest to make sure you have a can opener, just in case, and that you write yourself a note about its exact location and tape it to your bong. It’s the responsible thing to do.
Enter High Minded, where Tess Lynch revisits previously forgotten epiphanies, drags her lazy, leaden body on adventures and—whoa. I think this pudding's texture might improve if I added a handful of popcorn and some, like, canned blueberries. Look for a new column every other Friday at GOOD. Collage, as always, by Beth Hoeckel.