Q & A: Mennlay Aggrey
Q: How did you become inspired to cook with cannabis and why?
A: I’ve grown a considerable amount of cannabis in my life and I’ve grown bushels upon bushels of my own food. These practices have given me a good glimpse into the process of what it takes to bring food to the table, and weed into a joint. It has given me a deep gratitude for this line of work and the strong belief that access to fresh food and cannabis is not only naturally healing, but a crucial human right. As a simple home cook with 14 years of experience as a professional in the legal cannabis industry, it was inevitable for me to begin infusing weed into my meals.
Q: Can you tell our readers about your first experience cooking with Cannabis?
A: When I first cooked with cannabis, I didn’t feel anything. Why? Because I didn’t decarboxylate my herb. But I think that’s a better experience than most, lol. Most have that I got too fucked up because I put a lot of weed in my butter experience.
Q: Which is your favorite cannabis infused recipe and why?
A: I’m not one for favorites. It’s just too hard to limit myself of just one of anything. I don’t have a favorite book, or artist. Don’t have a favorite person or even color. But here are some of my favorites from the book and from from Heathish.
- West African Fried Chicken
- Chacahua Coconut Beans and Rice
- Rasta Mixed Berry Smoothie
- Easy Cheese Cannabis Spinach Frittata
- Charred Raw Corn salad
Q: What advice can you give first timers who want to cook with cannabis?
A: Measure everything. Use a scale. Don’t have one? Borrow one from your grandmother – borrow one from that one friend that sells weed if you have to. Always make sure you measure your cannabis material and the amount of butter/oil that you’ll be infusing. When you have the measurements, you can better calculate the potency of your butter and oil. When it comes to edibles, most people make them far stronger than necessary. It’s both a waste of cannabis, and in my personal opinion, a gluttonous way to treat a sacred plant. It might be a good idea to remember that cannabis has the capacity to be a strong medicine, hence the existence of medical marijuana. But I’m not here to preach, just to inform you that when it comes to making weed butter, less is more. The horror stories associated with strong edibles are all too real and the reason why edibles get such a bad rap.
Q: How has your heritage influenced your relationship with cannabis in the Kitchen?
A: This question alone will no doubt be my next book. As a West African woman, my roots run deep. And anyone from an indigenous culture knows how connected their roots are to food, herbs, plants and the earth. It then goes without saying that everything I do is influenced by my heritage. Everything I do I do for my ancestors who couldn’t. Or rather, who did it without any credit, acknowledgement or monetary awards. For simple home cooks and world-renowned chefs alike, our fondest experiences in our lives can be traced back to food. In the book The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South, the dazzling food historian, chef, and author Michael W. Twitty reminds us, “Many of our most pungent memories are carried through food, just as connections to our ancestors are reaffirmed by cooking the dishes handed down to us.” The beauty is that food takes no political sides. It’s fair, blameless, and is one of the driving forces connecting me to my ancestry.
Q: What do you think the social stigma of cannabis will be in 10 years from now?
A: So long as thin blondes in bikinis are photographed smoking weed–the social stigma will definitely dissipate. But will this help to expunge marijuana possession records? Will it help to get folks out of prison? Stigma is less important to me than the later. In 10 years, I’m manifesting that folks jailed for cannabis will become a thing of the past and equity the new norm. I’m manifesting that everyday people are able to have affordable, safe and easy access to the healing (and recreational) properties of herb.
Mennlay is the author of The Art of Weed Butter and an interdisciplinary cannabis entrepreneur legally working with marihüana since 2005. Through her visibility, and advocacy for social equity and inclusion, she hopes to navigate a future for women of color in the cannabis industry. As a creative in the field, her clients have included Whoopi Goldberg & Maya Elizabeth's cannabis product line, Whoopi and Maya. Her formal background is in journalism, with over seven years of experience in content creation roles, and cannabis cultivation. Her career path illustrates a shift happening for many women involved in the industry. As perceptions of the plant and its legality have changed, she has parlayed her deep belief in the healing power of cannabis into a legitimate profession. She currently resides Mexico City as a freelance writer, and creative director at Xula CBD while exploring cannabis and the diasporic connections between Africa and Latin America.