Should cooking with drugs (such as this question - especially before the edit) (legal or illegal) questions be on topic? I'm just going to leave it simple and at that.
To quote Aaronut:
The culinary use of traditionally non-culinary ingredients is the basis for our [culinary-uses] tag, and with respect to masking flavour, we even had a question along those lines about cod liver oil. If a compound butter is still intended to be baked, and eaten, and the question is about preserving it as a food, then it's clearly a cooking question. The original revision was wading into off-topic territory but I can see no problem with the current edited version.
People put all sorts of weird stuff in their food (cod liver oil, wheat grass, protein powder, marijuana). They do if for health reasons, nutrition, superstition, giggles. In my mind, that's all relatively irrelevant. If the question is about cooking with it, then it's on topic. If the question isn't about cooking with it, then it's off topic.
- How do I use protein powder to maximize muscle gain in my super smoothie?
- How do I maintain the magical properties of cod liver oil in my super smoothie?
- How do I get as high as possible from the marijuana in my butter?
- How do I stop getting clumps when I add my protein powder to my super smoothie?
- How do I mask the flavor of cod liver oil in my super smoothie?
- How do I stop my marijuana butter from growing mold?
I think it is probably a best practice to avoid putting drug names in the question title. There are some people that are touchy about this topic, and I don't see any harm in being sensitive to that.
Drugs? What drugs?
What's a drug? You didn't really define it...
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function.
...which is pretty broad. I intend to take full advantage of this...
There are currently 13 caffeine questions on the site. Some of them reasonably popular. None of them closed or disputed, so far as I can tell. There's even one directly concerning the flavor, and another regarding potency.
So as far as legal drugs go, this seems fairly (ahem) cut and dried... If you want to argue for excluding drug-questions, caffeine seems like an excellent place for you to start*!
*but first you'll have to pry my coffee out of my cold, shaking hands
Personally, I don't think the site should be tackling issues of law if it can be avoided. If I'm asking a question from a place where something is legal, and you're answering from somewhere it isn't... Well, don't answer. There are all sorts of foods that are illegal to sell or possess in one place or another; trying to enforce that on the site opens a very big can of worms.
Some folks are uncomfortable discussing drugs. Some folks are uncomfortable discussing foie gras, or meat. I'm probably most sympathetic to the notion that we should avoid a topic because it might drive away readers... But this can only go so far. We're not banning meat, or segregating vegetarians on their own site. If a question is asked in good faith, is constructive and otherwise on-topic, then I cannot see that we are justified in excluding it simply because a few squeamish folk might recoil... Tag it, and let them ignore it if they must.
I'm told both nutmeg and lettuce are hallucinogenic in sufficient quantity. I would hope we possess the discretion to exclude questions on the, um, recreational use of either, while still allowing them as the subject of serious questions on culinary use, serving, preserving, food safety, etc.
An amendment based on some chat discussion. I think it'd be ok if:
The particular item was not in the title of the question - its just not something that needs to be advertised.
The question is not about the 'effect' that the drug produces - how to keep it, enhance it, change it, etc. This would really be more health related and not culinary.
The question has culinary merit otherwise. It asks about techniques, tastes, textures, etc that if weren't drug related would be acceptable otherwise.
Please, give me a break. Once you edited out the potency reference (which was clearly off topic), leaving the rest is just gratuitous grandstanding. It's asked simply to provoke.
This isn't a drug issue or an issue of legality. It's a content issue and what you want for this site. Are you even asking yourself if this is a legitimate, professional culinary discussion that makes the site better?
You reject content on its (lack of) merits all the time. If I asked "What is the cheapest way to feed immigrant farm workers…", we wouldn't be having this conversation. Not because some of those immigrants might be undocumented, but because it is completely irrelevant to the question. It's asked gratuitously only to provoke. But somehow talk of "drugs" (and, strangely enough, profanity) bring out all the "Ooo... we have to embrace this because of free speech and all." Nonsense.
If you think the subject improves the site — If you think it reaches out to your target audience — argue the merits of the question. But shrouding the discussion in pseudo-free-speech arguments and straw-man culinary pretexts only does yourself a disservice.
I have no complaints about medical marijuana in general.
I do have an issue with asking questions about retention of medical potency.
I'd vote to close it if someone had asked about a compound butter made with St. John's Wort and asked about maintaining 'medicinal efficacy'.
(okay, I do have one complaint about some of the growers -- I was at a hotel near the convention center that was holding the 'Colorado Indoor Growing Expo', and those @!#!@#%holes were partying 'til at least 3am, while I was trying to sleep.)
I suspect the question was somewhat flame bait
The OP could have just asked about oregano butter, and got a useful answer
The OP choose to go somewhere which is problematic in many parts of the world
Why get the SA site banned in some countries, for a fringe question
SA doesn't do cocktails for the same/similar reason, right?
The issue of legality is not the focus. Laws change, and what's legal in one place can be illegal in the next. For this reason, the legality of a drug should have nothing to do with determining whether a question is on topic or not.
Definition of Drugs
I guess we could try to use a wholly generic, yet precise, dictionary/encyclopedic definition of "drugs" and include caffeine, nutmeg, and lettuce or any other chemical which "alters normal body function".
However, I think that's overreaching quite a bit, and clearly isn't what I had in mind.
I think what it comes down to is:
Common Sense and Culinary Relevence
I'd like to think that common sense separates marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription medication, hallucinogenic mushrooms, et al. from ingredients such as nutmeg or lettuce.
I acknowledge that caffeine and alcohol are rather ambiguous, and could easily be considered drugs. However, alcohol is very prevalent in cooking, and we have also thoroughly discussed it's topicality for this site, and decided that it is on topic.
Regarding caffeine, while we have not had a formal discussion regarding it's topicality, the fact that it is very widely consumed, very widely used in cooking (unavoidably in many cases), and that questions regarding it were broached and answered without controversy or even a second thought tell me that it passes the common sense and culinary relevance test.
The remaining drugs all have a few things in common:
- Rarely used in cooking
- Not taught or used in any culinary course
- Have non-trivial mood/mind altering properties
- Common sense says they are drugs
- Can reflect poorly on our sites professional image
I think we should be extra careful and cognizant of the last bullet point. I know that if I were new to this site and I stumbled across a front page that had a question about cooking with marijuana that I would dismiss the site and go elsewhere. Since I am obviously biased here, it's worth noting that we have a food blogging new user that says the same.
In closing, permitting drug oriented cooking questions is a can of worms that would best be left closed. Some may call these straw-man arguments, but where do we draw the line on "well-asked" questions such as:
- How can I incorporate cocaine into my _?
- What's wrong with my heroin brown sugar syrup?
- How can I store my human semen béchamel?
P.S. Cannibalism was a common sense off topic issue. In my opinion, these drugs (and semen) should be too.