For our travel issue, I wanted to go over something that we all associate with memories: aroma! When most people think of cannabis, they think of the beloved delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As cannabis becomes more and more mainstream, some are becoming privy to the incredible benefits of cannabidiol (CBD). But if you want to stay on the leading edge of cannabis knowledge, you should familiarize yourself with the beneficial compounds known as terpenes.
Terpenes are any of the large group of volatile, unsaturated hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of plants, especially conifers and citrus trees. Or in laymen’s terms, the flavor and aromatic profile found in anything that has an essential oil. Research now says that terpenes are not passive in their role in cannabis. That sweet, stimulating, piney smell you get off your XJ-13 or Jack Herer is not just what you will taste or smell in your hit—it plays a vital role in the high you experience as well. As a chef, this knowledge is key. When I a curate a dining experience, it is important for me to start with an extract that has a full terpene profile with the activated oil intact.
Another way I incorporate terpenes into the dining experience is by using them as an interactive aromatic centerpiece. We can even induce a certain feeling in the guest, depending on which terpene we put in the bowl. We add some CO2, some H2O at 210 degrees, and let the magic unfold into your olfactory system. Lavender is calming, and that’s not just because it smells good; terpenoid myrcenol is present, which induces a calming effect. So when you are at one of The Herbal Chef’s experiential dinners, smelling the amazing aroma of pinene that comes with a dish of Hamachi crudo with yuzu, it stimulates both your mind and your appetite.