The decade's most triggering comedy
In an interview on Monday, CNN’s Erin Burnett pressed Yellen to talk about her experience eating “magic mushrooms” with a group of people at a Beijing restaurant earlier this summer.
“The person who had arranged our dinner did the order and there was a delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later,” Yellen said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen explains eating a dish that contained “magic mushrooms” on her recent trip to China:
“There was a delicious mushroom dish. I was not aware that these mushrooms had hallucinogenic properties. I learned that later.” pic.twitter.com/WFRe92hHT8
— The Recount (@therecount) August 15, 2023
An amused Burnett asked Yellen if she had any visions, perhaps when she was sleeping. Through a fit of giggles, Yellen insisted that she did not start tripping.
“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,” the secretary said. “But all of us enjoyed the mushrooms — the restaurant and none of us felt any ill effects from having eaten them.”
Some people reacted to the exchange on social media with glee and humor — including NPR correspondent David Gura making a economics joke about how the “effects were transitory” — while others expressed uneasiness or ridiculed the Biden administration official.
“A Biden cabinet member was served hallucinogenic mushrooms in China? Can’t make this stuff up,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said in a post to X.
“Intelligence officers use psychedelics to compromise their targets,” Eric Garland, a self-described geopolitical analyst with nearly 300,000 followers on X, said in a post. “If they targeted Janet Yellen as part of an operation, diplomatic punishments should be swift and harsh.”
Steve Guest, a conservative commentator, observed, “Joe Biden’s America: The Treasury Secretary gets booked on CNN to talk about shrooming while in China,” while the Republican National Committee’s Jake Schneider quipped, “This is a very serious administration.”
Yellen made the trip to China in early July. She ate at the restaurant — part of a Yunnan food chain called Yi Zuo Yi Wang — shortly after landing in Beijing, according to CNN, which also reported the restaurant later posted to the Chinese social media platform Weibo to share that staff said Yellen “loved” the mushrooms “very much. She ordered four portions of jian shou qing (a Yunnan wild mushroom species). It was an extremely magical day.”
During her interview with the secretary, Burnett noted the chain’s wild mushroom dish has been selling out in locations around China ever since Yellen’s meal at the restaurant “set off a frenzy.”
While in China, Yellen set her focus on discussing issues such as economic competition, national security, and “climate finance.” By the end, she insisted the talks were “productive.”
But Yellen garnered some criticism with the emergence of video footage showing her bowing repeatedly to a Chinese official during the visit to Beijing.