If the Joy of Cooking is considered the bible to at-home chefs worldwide, Cedella Marley’s Cooking With Herb (Pam Krauss Books) is the holy grail to Tuff Gong fans and cannabis enthusiasts, which, amid the country’s slow but steady spread of legalization, now includes all types of people: entrepreneurs, creatives, all-natural consumers, fitness-goers, hipsters, hippie-dippies with hip replacements. . . .
Written by Bob’s first daughter, and culled from the family’s dishes of yore—buttered banana fritters, beet burgers with avocado and jerk-fried onions, quinoa with curry cashews and coconut—the book is also peppered with nuggets of wisdom on Jamaican culture and slang (“irie” means “feel good,” “wah gwaan” is “what’s up,” and “a suh mi duh mi ting” means “this is how I do my thing”). It also, quite responsibly, includes the correct dosage and usage of the cannabis plant referred here as simply herb. In fact, every recipe can be re-created with or without CannaOil and CannaButter, which, like all other ingredients in this simple-to-follow book, are exactly what you think they are: THC-infused coconut oil and butter, also known as the bit that will get you high.
What some in this herb-centric community may find surprising is Marley’s DIY take on natural beauty in the book’s final chapter. That’s right, thanks to the family’s joint venture with Marley Natural, a hemp seed oil–based body line that touts good vibrations but won’t get you high (as the book explains in big type, the benefits are not psychotropic and instead include muscle relaxation and a reduction in inflammation), beauty junkies now belong in this feel-good crowd, too. But according to Marley, who is also the face of the line, they’ve always belonged there.“My mom has the most incredible skin out of anyone I’ve ever seen,” says Marley, recalling her 72-year-old mother’s long adoration for herbal-infused soaks that include cannabis, mint, and anything else found in the garden. “Yeah, man; she don’t have one wrinkle.” In this book, Marley offers a slew of at-home and easy-to-make concoctions passed down from her mother and great-aunt; they may be messy, sure, but their benefits—glowing skin, strong hair, fewer wrinkles—are worth it.
And, as the book points out, they contain ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen, such as bananas, brown sugar, and mayonnaise, which is “highly conditioning for the hair,” she says. Vogue spoke with Marley over the phone from Miami, where she has raised a house full of boys on her family’s recipes. Weaving between American and Jamaican accents, Marley jams on her dad’s habits—”juicing and hair masks,” she says—and even shares a never-before-seen skin-brightening mask that, with ingredients including turmeric, honey, and lemon juice, is delightful enough to eat, infused with herb or not.Let’s go back to your childhood kitchen.
What did it look like, smell like, and what was the vibe?My kitchen was always filled with family. My mom wasn’t the greatest cook, you know, but her aunt, my great-aunt, was just spectacular. She was the one who taught me how to cook. We were the sous-chefs: prepping, going into the garden, picking up the fresh thyme and digging up the scallion, you know, and picking the Scotch bonnet peppers. The aroma, especially on a Sunday . . . the place you wanted to be was the Marley kitchen.
The neighbors would come over—at the time, we lived in one of three houses around this little cul-de-sac on Washington Drive—and it was never formal, although, my mom did teach us how to use the left hand and the right hand! But it was nice. We turned on music, and always said a prayer before we ate. Now I realize why they called it “cheat days,” because you’re eating every single thing in sight: roast beef, chicken, steamed fish, potato salad, rice and peas, green salad.
And one of our favorite juices that we made out of what we Jamaicans call soursop. It’s a green fruit and on the outside it’s kind of prickly but on the inside, it’s very white and meaty. It tastes like an explosion of a bunch of fruity flavors in one. Now, on Sundays in my own house, I make fried dumplings and a little salt fish run down and we just sit and watch movies all day. You have to come! Open invitation is how we always did and will do it.Banana FrittersPhoto: Aubrie PickSounds great! How did cannabis fit in?My parents are cool and everything, but they were very strict with us kids.
The only time we would partake in the herb is when they’d give it to us as medicine, like in the evening on Sunday, they’d make this tea they called a ‘wash out.’ Which, I guess, the fancy word nowadays is a cleanse. For cramps, my mom would grind the herb up and boil it in hot water and put it on my stomach for cramps, or use the CannaOil and rub it on my tummy.In the book, you write a lot about your family’s all-natural and vegetable-heavy approach to food. It’s not something the typical person a
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