Sunday 09 October 2011

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Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Hangover Cures From Around The World


In Mexico it’s crudo, in France it’s gueule de bois and in Germany it’s kater, but no matter how you say it – it sucks. Your head is pounding, your mouth is dry, your body aches and no matter how much you sleep, you feel like you can never feel refreshed. It’s the common hangover, the Irish flu, the wrath of grapes or just the result of freshman (or senior…or junior or sophomore) year.

The best remedy for treating a hangover is to detox with lots of water and replenish on vitamins with clean (unprocessed) foods but every culture has its cure.

In the United States, greasy foods seem to ease the pain: eggs and bacon with buttery hashbrowns, or cold pizza. Researchers actually recommend eating greasy foods before a night out, since it lines the stomach and slows down the alcohol absorption into the bloodstream. After a night out…greasy foods only add to the calorie count.

Belgium has the culprit and the cure built right into its national cuisine: beer and frites. Twice fried and served with mayo-based sauces, their fries are the best I’ve ever tasted.

In Ireland, the traditional Irish breakfast of sausage, bacon, blood pudding, eggs, canned beans, potatoes and tomatoes wasn’t invented for sober people. A true Irishmen cures a hangover with the hair of the dog, though. Across the pond in another culture know for its drinking habits, the English slurp down something called a prairie oyster: raw egg with Worcestershire sauce.

Traditionally, Greeks eat tripe soup made with honeycomb tripe (cow’s stomach lining) and lamb’s feet (a similar dish is also eaten in Mexico, called menudo.) Nowadays, young Greeks generally munch on souvlaki, a sort of fast food pita. In South American countries, spicy is key. Maybe it’s the theory that you’ll sweat out the alcohol? Some dishes include caldo de pollo from Guatemala and fricasé from Bolivia.

One of my favorite little Thai restaurants in State College serves a noodle dish called “drunken noodles.” I was curious about the name, and as it turns out, the stir-fried noodles with soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, meat or tofu, basil and chili sauce, is served out of street carts to drunken or hungover young people. Street cart fare is popular in other Asian countries as well: haejangguk (cabbage soup in beef broth) from Korea, and Okonomiyaki (a sort of savory pancake) from Japan.

Canada seems to be the only other country with a hangover cure unhealthy enough for an American. It’s called poutine, french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy and occasionally other toppings.

Italians and Spaniards never seem to get hangovers. After a night of wine and good food, the Italians and Spaniards wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee or espresso. It’s a wonder they aren’t dangerously dehydrated.

So what can we learn from these other cultures. The best cure? Drink like an Italian and you won’t get hangovers.

Alexia Miller is a recent grad living in Lancaster, PA. She loves to travel, experiment in the kitchen, and shop locally. The best breakfast she’s ever had is Swedish Oatmeal Pancakes.

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