It’s the season to get jolly and many of us will be charging up our good cheer with a few hard-hitting spirits. As a result, a number of holiday aficionados will suffer from crapula. That fitting word is the Latin term for hangover. In Spanish the word is cruda, but in any language it hurts. Pliny the Elder isolated this devastating virus, calling it “A sickness of the head from gross overindulgence,” and hurried off to the public baths to cure himself. Ever since, the search for a reliable antidote has gone on, with paltry results.
Perhaps H. Allen Smith’s last-recourse remedy is the best. “The only known cure for a hangover,” said Smith, “is to lie face down in a snow drift.”
Unfortunately, there are few real snow drifts in the Guadalajara area, though there are a couple of folks who will see snow-drifts, reindeer, several dozen angels and the inside of witches’ wings before January gets much further along.
Newted and Hammered
Without a live snow drift to bury oneself in, what to do when one has inadvertently become banjaxed, besotted, bibiluos, blotto and brained; canned caroused, corked, crashed and creased; dented, drenched and drunk, electrocuted, elephantized and elevated; foxed, flushed and fuddled; gassed, glassy-eyed and giggly; hammered, hit and half-seas-over; jugged and juiced; legless and lit-up; mangled, maudlin, merry, mesmerized and miffy; newted and obfusticated; pickled, pie-eyed and primed; rolling and reeling; sauced, scuppered, shattered, shebeened, shot, skewered, slaughtered, sloshed, sozzled, squiffy and swoozed; tanked up, three-sheets-to-the-wind, tippy and tiddly; under the influence, weaving, weltered and wrinkeled?
High octane chiles
Of course, many of our Mexican friends recommend burning off the residual alcohol with high octane chiles wrapped in chopped onion and chased with a few fingers of 90-peso tequila. An old-time campo cure is to lie down and have a friend pour some booze into your bellybutton. It’s supposed to go right to the core of your sickness, say shade-tree curanderos. A Tapatio friend has an elaborate cure consisting of levadura de cerveza chased with a huge helping of menudo and a cup of milk. A habitue of a two-table, cement-bar cantina I visit suggests both pouring beautiful soup into your belly-button and eating cow bellies, but I’ve never been sure about the sequence.
Another friend rouses himself the morning after, no matter how green his complexion, and hies his worn bod to an outdoor food stand to swallow down raw eggs and beer. Another pulls himself to the same dusty road stand to order huevos rancheros smothered in all the chile sauce he can get his spoon into .... if the dueña of the puesto feels he can be trusted with something as complicated as a spoon.
There is, of course, the time-honored method of hair-of-the-dog — repairing one’s shivered system with a soothing beer or bloody mary the morning after. It works, splendidly too, for your body is actually suffering a species of withdrawal from last night’s sprightly amounts of sweet spirits. But the drawback to this method of repair is that you’re simply laying the foundation of an other bender. It’s a kind of cyclical self-reinfection which, when it finally falls apart, is truly devastating.
Another corpse-reviver favored by many veterans of the beautiful soup is the bull shot, which usually consists of beef bouillon, a dash of vinegar, a teaspoon each of Worcestershire and ketchup, a dash of pepper and the yolk of a raw egg.
But there are some preventative measures you can use to deflect a full-force hangover. Put away a good meal to give your stomach a protective lining before beginning an evening of carousal. You get drunker faster, harder on an empty stomach. Warm drinks nail you faster than cold ones. Drinks with soda or tonic will hammer you harder than those with straight water because of the carbon dioxide gas in manufactured mixes. Wines and strong beer — those with less than 20 percent alcohol — are absorbed and take effect more swiftly than those of higher alcohol content. The heavy juice causes stomach irritation and that delays absorption. And, of course, don’t mix your drinks too much. Not because different kinds of alcohol are dangerous to one’s head when combined, but because of congeners.
Congeners are dangerous
Each kind of sauce has its own congener constituents, which give each its unique odor and flavor. The congener can also produce painful toxic effects. And this is the reason that those drinks with fewer congener constituents, such as vodka an gin, produce fewer hangovers than say, brandy and whiskey, which are rich in congeners. Plum brandies (slivovitz), sherry and wine produce those terrible green wounds on the inside of one’s head for other reasons. Plum brandies contain methanol, sherry contains acetaldehyde. Most red wines contain histamine. In Japan, a common hangover cure is eating persimmons which reduce the level of acetaldehyde in the body. If you’re a red wine tippler, take an antihistamine tablet before you start pretending you’re Bacchus.
Vitamin B-12 — and the entire range of Bs are recommended by some experienced juicers, along with vitamin C. Most nutrition buffs simply assume that when they have a hangover they’re sick, and begin taking those vitamins they would take for any sickness.
Samuel Pepys, that wonderful 17th Century diarist, advised taking plenty of fresh orange juice after a bout with booze. This turns out to be a pretty good cure, scientist now say. The orange juice contains fruit sugar — fructose — which aids the body in burning up alcohol.
Food after a heavy night doesn’t do a lot of good; besides if you’ve got a real body crusher, you’re not going to be able to keep a lot of stuff down. Coffee, as you drink, helps. However, it must get into your stomach before the alcohol leaves. Coffee afterwards is simply a waste because it’s too late and will only make your disposition worse by making you jumpy. Aspirin and such remedies as Alka-Seltzer irritate the stomach, which has already been inflamed by too much alcohol.
Lemon and honey is the one
Water won’t do any harm, but it won’t do much good either, aside from taking the scorch off your tongue.
One of the best cures seems to be the juice of one lemon (or orange) mixed with a generous portion of honey., Stir this liquid bandage well before forcing it down. The vitamin C and fructose of the lemon combined with the fructose of the honey is what does the trick speedily breaking up those evil congeners.