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15 Aug, 2023 16:09

Chinese magic mushrooms had ‘no impact’ on me – US Treasury chief

Janet Yellen ate the hallucinogenic fungi in Beijing, but insists she kept her composure
Chinese magic mushrooms had ‘no impact’ on me – US Treasury chief

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNN on Monday that she inadvertently ate hallucinogenic mushrooms while on a recent trip to China, but suffered no ill effects.

Yellen caused a brief stir on Chinese social media in July, when a local blogger revealed that she had consumed the wild and potentially psychedelic mushroom jian shou qing at a Yunnanese restaurant chain in Beijing. 

“Our staff said she loved mushrooms very much,” the restaurant commented, noting that after eating four helpings, Yellen surely had “an extremely magical day.”

“I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties,” Yellen told CNN’s Erin Burnett, adding that she “learned that later.” The Treasury chief said that a guide “did the ordering” for her group.

“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.”

While the jian shou qing mushroom is not psychoactive when fully cooked, it is toxic when improperly prepared and was last year listed in the Botanical Society of Yunnan’s index of poisonous mushrooms, triggering a discussion on whether the cherished regional delicacy should remain on the menu. However, the mushroom remains popular, and the restaurant chain has seen a surge in bookings since Yellen was witnessed wolfing down the dish.

Yellen visited Beijing amid an historic dip in US-China relations. Despite US President Joe Biden referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator” and rallying Washington’s Asian allies to exclude China from semiconductor supply chains, Yellen insisted that the US was not trying to “decouple” its economy from China’s or “gain economic advantage” over Beijing. 

Her visit did not spark an outbreak of goodwill between the rival superpowers, however. In the weeks since, Yellen has boasted of Washington’s plans to peel India and Vietnam away from Chinese economic influence, while Biden reportedly told political donors that he sees China as an economic “ticking time bomb” run by “bad folks” doing “bad things.”