America’s chief macroeconomist accidentally microdosed on Chinese “magic mushrooms” last month. Well, sort of.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen accidentally dined on hallucinogenic mushrooms on a recent diplomatic trip to China. However, she swears she didn’t actually get high from the dish.
“There was a delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties,” Yellen told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “I learned that later.”
“I can tell you none of us were affected by the mushrooms,” Yellen added. “I read that if the mushrooms were cooked properly, which I’m sure they were at this very good restaurant, that they have no impact. But all of us enjoyed the mushrooms…and none of us felt any ill effects.”
The mushrooms, according to The Washington Post, are typically foraged by locals in the Yunnan province and prised for their “umami-laden and porcini-like” flavor, not their hallucinogenic properties.
“There’s a difference in cultural attitude about the psychoactive effect — it’s like the food itself is more important than this property,” Colin Domnauer, a Ph.D. candidate who studies the mushrooms, told the Post.
A fascinating part about these specific mushrooms—whose name translates to “see hand blue”—is that scientists are yet to figure out what exact compound causes hallucinations in those who eat the undercooked fungi, leading to possibly untapped uses for medicine and psychotherapy.
According to the Post, publicity over Yellen’s brush with the supposedly harmless mushrooms has led the dish to sell out in China, where the shrooms are served at multiple locations of a restaurant called “In and Out” (which, alas, is not related to the West-coast burger chain.)
This latest incident provides an amusing tale about the weirder sides of diplomacy—and perhaps distracts from Yellen’s disastrous handling of the national debt. But if Yellen had ended up going on an unwanted trip, Reason thankfully has a nifty guide on how to take shrooms, and what to do if you end up taking a bit too much.