Psychedelic Writer Daniel Pinchbeck Likes His Chocolate With ‘Special Properties’

"When I first took mushrooms, I became aware of how much crap was in processed food."Credit: Melissa Hom


We figured Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl would have some singular eating habits, having written his share about eating substances other than food. “If you do a lot of shamanic work,” he told us, “There’s an inner cleansing process that goes on. You find the will to reject bad habits — that extends to bad food.” Now that he’s on a higher plane, he’s working on a book about sustainability and says his research in the area is forcing him to make healthier choices. So what did he chose to eat this week?

Thursday, March 1
I had two breakfasts. My daughter and I had organic maple yogurt with chocolate Honey Grahams and then I took her to school. In the cafeteria we had fruit salad and shared a croissant.

Wednesday, February 28
I had coffee and a blueberry muffin at Ninth Street Espresso on Avenue C. It has the best French-press coffee.

For lunch I went to Quintessence and had spinach saag, a sort of Indian spinach dish with chutney and something in place of bread; apple cider; and yerba matte latte. I’m not a raw foodist, but I love to eat it from time to time — it gives you a lot of energy and you don’t feel heavy afterwards.

I picked my daughter up and had a coffee at a little café. We went to Commodities Natural Market, and I had a prepared macrobiotic platter of barley and dumplings and added steamed broccoli. My tendency more and more is to eat vegetarian and healthier. Also I’m lazy and don’t like to prepare things.

Tuesday, February 27
I had a scrambled egg on a bagel at Café Pick Me Up. I wish the coffee was better. After that I went to Rapture, a new bookstore café on Avenue A and had another coffee. For dinner that night I went to Dojo and had the hijiki-tofu dinner. Later that night I went out to Nublu, where there was some kind of jazzy band, and had a glass of red wine.

Monday, February 26
I had a coffee and chocolate croissant at Ninth Street Espresso. I had a friend in; it was her last day in town. We shared a homemade chocolate that had special properties. It was great. In college when I first took mushrooms, I became aware of how much crap was in processed food — you taste all the chemical additives and preservatives that we’ve lost all sensitivity to.

We went to Moby’s café teany. While there we had a honey-bush vanilla tea and we shared a really delicious lentil soup. For dinner I went to Life Cafe and had fish and chips plus Coke. I have a sentimental regard for places that are in the East Village a long time, even though it’s not under the same management. I met a friend later that night at Casimir and had a glass of red wine, shared some garlic spinach, smoked herring and potato appetizers, ice cream — vanilla, pistachio, and chocolate — and then espresso.

Sunday, February 25
Breakfast was coffee and half of a muffin that I shared at the Mudspot. For brunch I went to Souen. It was tofu, their grain of the day, sweet barley, green veggies — kale or something — some beans, and Mu tea, a sort of sweet dark tea without caffeine. I went to my friend’s house in Chelsea and made pasta with an onion sauce. Then I went to the Alt Oscar party, a big costume party at Mannahatta that had a Burning Man theme.

Saturday, February 24
In the morning I was up in Woodstock, where I stayed with Sharon Gannon, one of the founders of Jivamukti yoga. For breakfast I had coffee and a piece of toast with avocado on it and an apple. Then I gave a workshop — the concept was integrating the visionary experience into this world we live in. It was a funny mix of people who had been there since Woodstock in the sixties and some younger people — and then we had to race back to the city because I had to do something at Cosm — where there were crudités and grapes. The artist Alex Gray and I had a public discussion about initiation into visionary realms. Then we went downtown, trying to go to another party in Brooklyn. We stopped at Bereket at 2:30 a.m. — it was a drunken madhouse. I had a lamajoon — a thin layer of lamb on a pita with lettuce, tomato, and onions.

Friday, February 23
I left at 2 p.m. for Woodstock, then we had dinner at Sharon’s house. The soup was garden celery with morel mushrooms and probably a small amount of onion or leek, whipped new redskin potatoes with walnut oil and roasted garlic, and then herbed red beans and wild rice, steamed broccoli and cauliflower topped with lemon zucchini sauce, and salad, plus horseradish, chopped up and made into a paste, from their garden. It was a really great meal. We had Soy Dream ice cream with raspberries and vegan chocolate chips.