A hangover is an opportunity.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
You may not be thinking this now, but a hangover is an opportunity to see and taste the world in a new way. It’s a chance for spontaneity and whimsy, for an experience to be enjoyed rather than simply endured.
What follows is a therapeutic collection of recipes, a gastronomic comedy, a burlesque homage to the possibility of snatching hope from failure, triumph from despair, laughter from tragedy. If you really can’t be bothered—an attitude, by the way, that I entirely understand—just gobble some painkillers, drink some water, and head straight back to bed. But if you’ve got an appetite, then read on.
Come. Let us boldly step into this brave new world.
Before it’s going to be possible to even think about tackling your hangover, you need to work out what type of hangover you have, as each as its own specific characteristics.
The Sewing Machine Hangover
It’s long and it’s very sharp. It hurts. And it’s jabbing you with military precision at various points in your head, sometimes right between your eyes, sometimes in your temples, and sometimes in the top of your skull, which today feels as thin and as delicate as an eggshell. You need something to eat that is soothing and comforting. Like the Elvis Presley Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon Sandwich. [Editor’s Note: Or the next closest thing–frozen bananas coated in chocolate, crumbled bacon, and chopped peanuts]. Scrambled eggs. Croissants. Nutella. Hot chocolate. Boiled eggs.
The Broken Compass Hangover
This a distinctly psychological type of hangover, one that Kingsley Amis might have described as being profoundly metaphysical. In his authoritative and masterly tome on the subject of alcohol, On Drink, Amis wrote that a metaphysical hangover of this sort combines “that ineffable compound of depression, sadness, anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure, and fear for the future. “ Hence your lack of direction and certainty, and your general air of desperate confusion, restlessness, fear, and loathing. You also feel utterly directionless and indecisive. Life does have meaning, you just need some spice to make things nice. Respite comes in the form of Mexican or ranch-style eggs (huevos rancheros), hot sauce, or a highly charged, pepped-up variety of Bloody Mary.
The Comet Hangover
If, dear space cadet, you have The Comet, you’re enveloped in a fuzzy atmosphere of ice, rock, and gases, swirling through star dust, and are generally away with the fairies. In many ways you feel fine. But you also feel indistinct and occasionally, though not horribly so, a little hysterical. You sense that you’ve somehow lost a direct connection with the world. A line from any song or even just a single thought may seem to be stuck in your brain, like “Who the hell invented Tuesdays?” To be frank, you need something to cut through this type of cosmic crap–try recipes with fizz, crunch, or bite, such as lime soda, Greek yogurt with granola, or Stilton and pears on toast [Editor’s Note: Or Stilton and pears on a tart.]
The Atomic Hangover
If you’re blown away by The Atomic, you have the feeling of a nuclear explosion having detonated inside your skull. I suspect that if you look in the mirror you might still see a mushroom cloud above your head, evidence of the explosion that has taken place inside you. The blast has left an enormous crater. As a consequence, your head hurts and it feels as though your insides have been stripped out. You have no nausea, but an enormous appetite. The best thing you can do, other than to replace the fluids you have lost, is to eat. A lot. Tuck into hearty recipes, which will repair some of the devastation that the booze has wrought, such as a chorizo omelet, potato hash with bacon, breakfast porridge, even tagliatelle alla carbonara.
The Cement Mixer Hangover
If you have the deeply nauseating Cement Mixer, you feel as though someone has ripped your head off and thrown a cement mixer inside you before sealing you up again. You need to turn that cement mixer off. Immediately. But how? Well, to start with, I suggest that you eat something to soothe your stomach and make the world stand still again. Try something from a gentle menu of comforting things. The perfect tea and toast. French toast. A sweet lassi. Rosti and poached eggs. A banana smoothie.
The Gremlin Boogie Hangover
This hangover is greatly feared, as it represents the very nadir of the hungover state, the dark immobile sludge at the bottom of a vast sewer. It combines both acute physical and psychological symptoms. It is a living nightmare. Indeed, it could also be called “Apocalypse Now,” as its intensity is such that you feel you could be a doomed figure in an Hieronymus Bosch painting or, indeed, the living embodiment of one of Francis Bacon’s distorted portraits. If, poor little lamb, you have the hugely distressed Gremlin Boogie, you may have any number of the following: nausea; a swimming, aching head; cold sweats; trembling hands; shivering; coughing; prickly eyes; and stabbing pain across your body. In between the pain and the fever, there are nightmarish visions of what might have happened last night, things that you’re not quite aware are true or not. You have terrible pangs of guilt. Moments of existential clarity and a sense of really getting to the bottom of your “self” are mixed with a general sense of doom and futility. These, you might feel, are the end times for you: either the world is about to end or your own continued participation in it seems at best tenuous. I’d recommend having breakfast. You may not feel like it. You may doubt that it is even possible for you to eat. However, exceptionally clean, healthy food should help to banish the nausea, restore your pulse, and ease the cold sweats. Try a melon, feta, and ham salad. [Editor’s Note: Or a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich and cantaloupe soup.] Or smoked salmon eggs Benedict smothered with hollandaise sauce. Carrot, orange, apple, and ginger juice. And if you really can’t face breakfast, then perhaps lots of rest and plenty of water is the only cure for you.
Author’s and Publisher’s Note: The author and the publisher wish to point out that it is you who has gotten yourself drunk. We will not accept any responsibility for either your drunken condition, your hungover state, or any implications for your health arising thereof. That being the case, it is also not our responsibility to cure you of your condition. Any accidents or misadventures you may have while attempting to do so yourself are made entirely at your own risk. Good luck!
Editor’s Note: The editors at Leite’s Culinaria wish to point out that the author of The Hungoevr Cookbook, (and no, that’s not a typo, it’s how they spelled it–clearly, they did their research for the book!) from which the above notions and whims are excerpted, has conjured what he deems “a very short series of fun visual tests and a brief questionnaire designed to provide you with a definitive diagnosis.” That is, a definitive diagnosis in terms of how severe your hangover, whether you’re dizzy from the Cement Mixer or blown away by the Atomic. It may sound a little gimmicky, sort of like Ralphie in A Christmas Story sending away for the Secret Society decoder. Except this little tome really is worth sending away for or traipsing down to your local bookseller. Really. Trust us.
Excerpted from The Hungoevr Cookbook © 2010 Milton Crawford. Illustration © 2010 300million. All rights reserved.