Aurora Leveroni, the quintessential Italian grandmother, relishes in bringing joy to loved ones through food. With 75 years of cooking experience, Leveroni can whip up a mean old-school Italian meal. What makes her meals so special is that they’re not only made with love, they also consist of fresh herbs such as basil, oregano and marijuana. Leveroni, affectionately known as “Nonna Marijuana,” teaches patients how to incorporate medical cannabis into dishes through a series of YouTube videos.
Leveroni’s daughter, Valerie Corral, started using marijuana to treat her grand mal seizures — a result of a car accident. Consequently, the 91-year-old chef began to incorporate Corral’s medicine into meals, sharing her marijuana cooking skills on YouTube. The series was launched courtesy of Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which Corral founded.
Nonna serves up a sense of relatable humor that you and your grandmother can enjoy. She’s serious about using marijuana for strictly medicinal purposes. This is apparent when she tells the viewers in one of her 2011 YouTube videos, “I say it’s for medical marijuana use only and not for fun. If you want to have fun, grab a streetcar and go down to the beach and romp into the water.”
VICE recently profiled Nonna in its opening episode of Bong Appetit, a series on its Munchies channel, hosted by Matt Zimbric. The video allowed her to show off her marijuana-infused butter expertise as well as her charm and penchant for making delicious food the “old country” way. Through her cooking tutorials, Leveroni shows viewers how to make traditional Italian novelties including gnocchi and chicken cacciatore, or as she delightfully dubs it “pot-cciatore,” in pot-infused butter.
In the video Nonna told Zimbric, “I like to cook with medical marijuana because I feel that it helps those who have been ill and had to endure pain, and I will use it if it helps anyone.”
Corral explained that she and her mother use indica strains of marijuana in their cooking since sativa is more likely to cause anxiety within patients. In addition, she described how indica has more pain-relieving qualities and provides more of a body high, while sativa provides more of a head high.
The compassion that Nonna feels for those who struggle with debilitating illnesses is perhaps most evident when she holds her daughter’s hand and explains that she would never advocate for her daughter to take prescription medications.
“I’m a very, very firm supporter of marijuana and my daughter is living proof of it,” Nonna said.
In the video, Nonna and Corral take Zimbric on a tour of their impressively lush marijuana garden, consisting of about 20 different strains, including sativas and hybrids as well as a separate CBD garden.
After the three enjoyed their pot-infused Italian dinner (Nonna’s was sans pot), Corral and Zimbric dug into some medicated, homemade candy cap ice cream, because there’s always room for marijuana-infused dessert. As it turns out, the ice cream was actually too potent-tasting for their liking — a discovery they make through interspersed fits of laughter.
David Bienenstock, the producer of Munchies, is excited to show people how the realm of edibles is evolving from the typical pot brownies.
“We’re moving beyond marijuana as something frightening. A lot of people are curious, and food is a great way for people to access the culture,” he said. “Once they can access it, they start to understand it’s something we shouldn’t be suppressing and should be celebrating.”
Do you cook with cannabis? Tell us some of your favorite recipes below.