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Paul McCartney talks hemp, wine and comfort food on River Cafe podcast

McCartney’s growing his own — and he has to hide it from the neighborhood kids.

Paul McCartney in October 2018 | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The musician Paul McCartney grows his own hemp — an insight dropped in an interview on the "River Cafe Table 4" podcast.

The recently-launched podcast consists of a series of interviews with celebrated figures who frequent the London-based restaurant River Cafe. Their conversations with the cafe’s owner, Ruth Rogers, typically revolve around food — although almost anything may come up. (And if you’re wondering about the Table 4 reference, according to the New York Times, it’s is the most coveted seat in the house.)

Hemp — the strait-laced sister to THC-rich strains of cannabis — may be the perfect comfort plant for a more mature McCartney.

In the October 5 episode, McCartney dishes about everything from being vegetarian to farming with organic methods — which even skeptical local farmers have come around to in the two decades or so McCartney’s been at it.

“When I first bought the farm there were some fields that my farm guys would say, ‘There are no worms in these fields. There’s no life,’” he told Rogers. “Because basically all you did was you put on pesticides, and then you put a fertilizer in. So I thought, OK, there’s a challenge. We’re going to go organic.”

Now he grows spelt wheat, rye, peas. And is just getting into growing hemp.

“The funny think is with government regulations, you’ve got to keep it where people can’t see it,” he said.

“Oh really?” asked Rogers. “Why is that?”

“Well! You’ve got all the kids coming in and robbing it,” he laughed.

The revelation that McCartney’s into cannabis isn’t totally surprising, considering the former Beatle’s inextricable place in the mind-expanding, drug-embracing culture of the 1960s.

According to the UK Express, Bob Dylan introduced McCartney to cannabis in 1964, after which he began to smoke regularly. He continued to do so for decades, and has a list of international run-ins with the law to show for it.

Reportedly, he stopped smoking ganja in the the 2000s. But a couple decades later, hemp — the strait-laced sister to THC-rich strains of cannabis — may be the perfect comfort plant for a more mature McCartney.

The bulk of the interview revolves around food and drink, with a notable story shared about the first time he tasted wine. He and John Lennon had hitchhiked to Paris after a relative gave Lennon £100 for his birthday.

“We thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got to have a wine experience. We’re in France,’ you know. […] “We took a sip and thought, ‘Oh, that is terrible! It’s like vinegar.’”

He came around later, after a sip of wine that tasted “like velvet.”

In each episode of “River Cafe Table 4,” the guest reads a recipe for one of the restaurant’s dishes. McCartney’s was roasted aubergines (that’s eggplant to Americans) with tomatoes and basil.

And his comfort food? A quesadilla.

“It’s like a pizza turned inside out,” he said. “I love it. In fact, I think I’m having it tonight."

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