Quite the trip

Janet Yellen says she ate hallucinogenic mushroom dish in China

US treasury secretary says she wasn’t aware of the fungi’s properties, didn’t feel ‘any ill effects,’ as she inadvertently sparks local craze for ‘see hand blue’ shrooms

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen poses for photos in Hanoi, Vietnam July 20, 2023. (Hau Dinh/AP)
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen poses for photos in Hanoi, Vietnam July 20, 2023. (Hau Dinh/AP)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealed she ate hallucinogenic mushrooms while on a trip in China, inadvertently kicking off a local craze for the fungi.

Demand for Jian shou qing, a local dish that translates as “see hand blue,” shot up after social media reports that Yellen enjoyed a plate full at a Beijing restaurant during her four-day visit to China in July.

Yellen told CNN on Monday that she didn’t organize the dinner excursion, nor did she do the ordering.

“There was a delicious mushroom dish,” she said. “I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later.”

Yellen explained that she read that “if the mushrooms are 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, the restaurant, and none of us felt any ill effects from having eaten them,” she said.

Jian shou qing gets its colorful name from the lanmaoa mushrooms it contains, which turn blue when bruised or sliced.

Yellen was spotted at the restaurant by a user of the Chinese microblogging site Weibod who reported what she ate.

A Chinese hashtag translating as “US Treasury Secretary Yellen’s first meal in Beijing is Yunannese” quickly went viral on social media.

The restaurant chain posted to Weibod that some of its branches sold out of the dish within hours, the UK Guardian newspaper said.

Peter Mortimer, a professor at Kunming Institute of Botany, told CNN after Yellen’s dining experience was first reported that lanmaoa mushrooms are considered poisonous because they can be hallucinogenic. However, scientists have yet to identify precisely what compounds cause the effects.

“I have a friend who mistakenly ate them and hallucinated for three days,” Mortimer said.

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