In the “gift” that keeps on embarrassing, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s disastrous trip to Beijing now includes a hallucinogenic wrinkle.
Normally, that would hardly be worth any consternation at all but it turns out that the Chinese restaurant carries a dish made with mushrooms that carry actual mysterious hallucinogenic powers — and yes, Yellen had some.
In fact, according to a post on Chinese social media from the restaurant itself, Yellen had four portions of these mystery mushrooms.
Called jian shou qing, these mushrooms that bruise easily are actually a blanket term for a family of mushrooms, but in this region, jian shou qing generally refers to “Lanmaoa asiatica.”
Described as looking similar to the much more commonly used porcini mushroom, Lanmaoa asiatica packs a significantly bigger punch.
Dr. Peter Mortimer, a professor at Kunming Institute of Botany, told CNN that “Lanmaoa mushrooms are considered poisonous as they can be hallucinogenic.”
The most astounding tidbit Mortimer provided, however, is that the source of the hallucinogenic properties is still a complete mystery.
“However, scientists have not, as of yet, identified the compounds responsible for causing the hallucinations,” the professor said. “It remains a bit of a mystery, and most evidence is anecdotal. I have a friend who mistakenly ate them and hallucinated for three days.”
CNN adds that the “general belief” surrounding the mysterious mushrooms is that fully cooking them removes the hallucinogenic properties.
The restaurant in question confirmed to CNN that their jian shou qing dishes are fully cooked.
Look, given all that, it seems unlikely that Yellen’s foodie visit would have caused her to be hallucinating or otherwise impaired while on official U.S. business in China.
But that doesn’t mean it’s out of the realm of possibility — just look at the complete and total lack of knowledge surrounding what may as well be Super Mario Bros. mushrooms. And that’s the last specter that Yellen wants hanging over her widely panned visit to China.
The entire visit, from the moment she stepped down in Beijing, has been wrought with controversy.
In the immediate aftermath of Yellen’s visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping flexed his military muscle by instructing the Chinese army to begin war planning. Presumably, that not-so-subtle statement has to do with the never-ending territorial dispute involving Taiwan.
And yes, as harrowing of a gesture as that was, that story was quickly buried when Yellen met Vice Premier He Lifeng in Beijing.
That odd meeting has a whole new context knowing what Yellen was eating earlier in her visit.
And, again, it seems unlikely Yellen was impaired or hallucinating, and much more likely that she was just butchering an East Asian tradition.
But the fact that there’s even potential discussion over whether or not a U.S. official embarrassed herself in front of another world power because she was seeing sounds and hearing lights is sort of the whole point.
It’s a bad look, period.
Worse yet, it’s become an all too frequent look for the incumbent administration.