Ephemera

Five Hangover Food Curatives

By on October 1, 2013 1:30pm EST

The raw, heartless light of a brand new day tugs your eyelids open, forcing you to face the ugly consequences of a long evening’s dalliance with your fair-weather friend, Johnny Walker, and the Rudolph-nosed denizens of that sticky karaoke bar. Grease stains your pants, a crust of mustard rings your sleeve, the taste of death films your mouth. Did you eat street meat?

That dubious bacon-wrapped street hot dog may not have kept you from falling asleep on your living room floor with the blinds open, giving your neighbors a glimpse of your spit-encrusted, carpet-creased shame, but you may have a chance to curb the dull ache, vertigo, and full-body zombification seeping into your system from liver HQ with these hangover-helpers tested through an intensive study casually known as my early 20s.

Burritos. Oh Mexican food. How would I have survived that forgotten year of Red Bull and vodka disaster cocktails without a thick coat of pig jowl grease stomach lining and pinto bean buffer? When the night is done and it’s time to rest your head on the car door in the passenger seat because the world outside won’t stop spinning, burritos are mom’s soothing hands on your feverish forehead, wrapped in a tasty tortilla. Protein, carbs, fats–they have everything you need to combat the horrors haunting your poor body in a neat package your temporarily stunted brain won’t have to struggle over. Articles purporting the benefits of protein in curing hangovers are vague and often laughable, but if your body is crying out for amino acids, you can’t go wrong with this meaty bundle of joy.

pedialytePedialyte. You broke the seal after your third big-gulp beer and spent the entire concert running back and forth from the porta potties. Now you feel as dry and shriveled as that ancient stick of jerky at the local convenience store. Pedialyte may not necessarily qualify as a food–at lukewarm temperatures, it doesn’t taste like anything that should be imbibed. In any case, it does help with rehydration, which surprisingly doesn’t play a huge part in minimizing a hangover, but can provide some relief to the unpleasantness caused by alcohol’s dehydrating effect. If ethanol kicks your electrolytes in the ribs and your stomach turns into an inhospitable tar pit, I’d suggest drinking the baby Kool-Aid. It doesn’t even matter what flavor you get–they’re all equally terrible.

3 a.m. Breakfast. There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as walking into an IHOP at 3 a.m. wearing black platform boots and a fishnet shirt after a goth club. And by exhilarating, I mean mortifying. But you gotta do what you gotta do, especially after the many Manhattans you decided to drink because of that Sex and the City marathon. The pre-dawn hangover breakfast should be as well-rounded as the burrito. I’m pretty sure Michelle Obama’s nutrition plate includes a short stack wedge. If you’re watching your waistline and the idea of eating pancakes in the dark sends you to your scale….you shouldn’t have been drinking all of those Manhattans in the first place.

Cat Food Tacos and Jalapeño Poppers (a.k.a. the most questionable items on the fast food menu). This might be the most shameful admission I’ve made yet. I eat those terrible Jack in the Box tacos after getting too friendly with congeners. These tacos have affectionately been nicknamed cat food tacos because the “meat” filling looks like Fancy Feast pâté. I’m recommending jalapeño poppers and most other metabolism-spiking spicy foods as a hangover soother with the caveat that they don’t work for everyone. In fact, they could lead to a Scoville nightmare in the bathroom. I don’t care what they say about the ineffectiveness of greasy foods against hangovers–I’ll take drive-thru shame over nothing any day.

Pho. While no conclusive studies exist to give us a real cure to the common hangover, my own groundbreaking research has determined that the answer is pho. I will drag myself out of bed and make someone take me to the nearest Vietnamese restaurant for savory broth, animal parts, basil, mint, and rice noodles when dealing with a hangover caused by, say, an incident where your friends convinced you that it’s okay to have a vodka cocktail after two glasses of red wine. I, Dr. Quackery, like to imagine that the cure is all in the slow-cooked broth and the copious spoonfuls of sambal oelek you swirl into your soup. I prescribe the House Special.

What keeps you from going full-zombie after drinking lumberjacks under the table?

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S Zainab Williams

S. Zainab Williams is a writer, author of graphic novel Beatrice is Dead, and blogger at szainabwilliams.com. She likes fava beans and a nice Chianti but can't figure out what protein to pair them with. Follow her on Twitter: @szainabwilliams.

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  • Amanda Phickle

    I’m so with you on the burritos and pho! My go-to, though, is kombucha. It never seems appealing, but it SO does the trick. I feel like cinderella being transformed as it tingles its way through my system!

    • S. Zainab Williams

      I’ll have to try this kombucha remedy! It sounds correct, somehow.

  • Meaghan

    You know I love my pedialyte! I highly recommend drinking it before and during alcohol drinks. The next day? Nothing like a good old fashioned puke, a belly rinse of warm water and a side of white rice for me!

    • S. Zainab Williams

      “A good old fashioned puke…” Hilarity! White rice is like a superior version of crackers (unless we’re talking Ritz–those are crack).

  • Wini Moranville

    Great suggestions. Of these, I think Pho is the best—there’s a tenderness and heartiness to it that really helps.

    BTW: Not to self-promote, but this is on topic: I recently wrote a piece on French hangover cures….one of which is an ingredient commonly found in rat poison. Find it here if you’re interested. My favorite is French Onion Soup: http://chezbonnefemme.com/french-cures-for-a-hangover/

    • S. Zainab Williams

      Nice! I don’t think I’ll ever try nux vomica (not just because of the name), but I could go for French onion soup or cassoulet, hung over or not.

  • Bob Bires

    My remedy is Krystal hamburgers, oddly, but there must be something to it, since a Krystal sits right at the mouth of Bourbon St. Best eaten at the end of a night of drinking, however, not the next morning! I’m not sure Krystals and sunlight should ever intersect. As always, a very nicely-written piece.

    • S. Zainab Williams

      Your hangover food sounds much fancier than my IHOP and “whatever’s open” taqueria.

      • Bob Bires

        That may be a geographical disconnect–Krystals are small, square, cheap, greasy, super-thin burgers a la White Castle. They are pretty bad. They may only be in the South, and were, coincidentally, started and owned for a long time by the family of the current chairman of the board at the school where I teach.

        • S. Zainab Williams

          Aaah. I’ve never heard of them. “Pretty bad” is perfect for hangovers.

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