The U.S. treasury secretary’s Beijing visit to improve U.S.-China relations included a stop at a restaurant chain called Yi Zuo Yi Wang (In and Out), which serves a dish featuring mushrooms noted for psychedelic effects.
“So I went with this large group of people and the person who had arranged our dinner did the ordering,” Yellen told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” Monday. “There was this delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties.”
“I learned that later,” she continued.
Yellen’s mushroom meal was first reported by a food blogger who spotted Yellen’s group at the eatery. It was later confirmed by the restaurant, which posted on China’s social media platform Weibo that it was an “extremely magical day” — and that Yellen “loved mushrooms very much.”
“I read that if the mushrooms are cooked properly, which I’m sure they were at this very good restaurant, that they have no impact,” Yellen told Burnett. “But all of us enjoyed the mushrooms, the restaurant, and none of us felt any ill effects from having eaten them.”
The mushroom species known regionally as jian shou qing (see hand blue) have properties that are not well understood.
“Lanmaoa mushrooms are considered poisonous as they can be hallucinogenic,” Peter Mortimer, a professor at Kunming Institute of Botany, told CNN. He said a friend “mistakenly ate them” once and “hallucinated for three days.”
Properly prepared, the mushrooms have no “negative effects,” according to CNN.
The mushrooms have become a delicacy in China’s Yunnan province, which decreed in 2022 that they should remain legal to sell and serve.
Yellen’s Beijing dinner reportedly trended on social media, with millions of views.
She cheekily smiled as Burnett observed that she “set off a frenzy” and that “these wild mushroom dishes are selling out at the restaurant’s branches across China.”