History

What Exactly Did the Hashish Eaters Eat?

By David Jenison

Each month, the hashish eaters met in a rented section of the 17th-century Hôtel Pimodan. Dr. Moreau, often adorned in Turkish garb, meet the participants at the top of the stairs and handed them a morsel of green paste from a crystal vase. As he provided the mixture, he said, “This will be deducted from your share in Paradise.” What exactly was this green paste? The concoction, a North African spread called dawamesk, reportedly contained pistachios, orange peel, butter, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cloves and hashish. After consuming the edible, the participants sat down for dinner accompanied by music and merrymaking. Club co-founder Théophile Gautier described his first hashish experience as “an emerald which gave off millions of tiny sparkles.” Louis Le Vau, the famed architect who designed the Palace of Versailles, also designed the building that became Hôtel Pimodan, which exists today as Hôtel de Lauzun. At present, individuals can only visit the hotel on small group tours.

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