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Hangover helpers: from prairie oysters to fried canaries

January 31st, 2014
08:00 PM ET

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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

And there it is. The game is over, the year is over, the winners have won and the losers have been consigned to the polar dark for their hapless betrayal of everything we hold dear, and you, you poor sad former human, are in rough shape.

Either you spent last night drinking the potent margaritas of victory, the 11.7 percent alcohol Imperial IPAs of triumph, or you scoured the miseries of defeat from your body with, well, pretty much the same stuff. You hurt. Your brain is a half-dead fish, floating in a polluted ocean. And now you have to go to work. Life, bah. It’s truly unfair.
Here are your options. The classic hair of the dog might be a possibility, but it depends on what your job entails. If you are a wine writer, for instance, no worries. If you are an air traffic controller, on the other hand, please avoid this option.

And the truth is, it doesn’t work all that well. Your body is still processing what you drank last night. Additional alcohol, while it may numb the pain in the short term, in the end will only extend your misery as your overindulged system deals with the added booze.
Option two, the chili-cheese omelet (or bacon cheeseburger, or whatever other greasy platter of food you prefer). Not necessarily ideal if you are already nauseated, obviously, but if you are of the cast–iron stomach breed, this approach will at least give your body some fuel, which you need. The key is the calories, not the fat. You could just as easily have a bowl of oatmeal, and lower your chances of a heart attack, too, but somehow that just doesn’t feel right.
Coffee. Generally speaking, not perfect. The caffeine boost may help, but on the other hand coffee is a vasoconstrictor, tightening up your blood vessels (wrong approach for a headache). So at the very least you might pass on the king-size cup. Note, however, that if you’re a regular coffee drinker, skipping the black liquid of the magic bean may produce a second splitting headache on top of the first one you had. Life, as noted above: not fair.
The prairie oyster. I remain mystified as to why anyone feeling like toasted hell would want to down a raw egg swimming in Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. I remain mystified, in fact, as to why anyone in perfect health would want to do this. But go ahead. The results may allow you to legitimately take a sick day.
Smart approach: water, sports drinks and so on. You’re undoubtedly dehydrated, your electrolyte balance approximates that of a superfund site, so liquids will actually help you. Ditto antioxidants: a blueberry-and-açai smoothie might not be out of line either. Now, in an ideal world you drank a lot of these liquids throughout yesterday and on into last night, but who lives in an ideal world?
Finally, there are deep-fried canaries. It’s said this was a popular Roman Empire solution to the hangover problem. Of course, this comes from a time when the solution to eating too much at dinner was the vomitorium. But if your neighbor does happen to have a canary, then breaking in, stealing it, frying it up, eating it and finally heading off to work might actually—well, no. Just don’t. Stick to water. Your life will be better.

More from Food & Wine:
Barcelona’s Best Hangover Cures
America’s Best Diners
Fantastic Bloody Mary Recipes
Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.
America’s Most Decadent Potato Dishes

Our readers' favorite hangover cures
Hair of the dog cocktails and hangover tips

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Filed under: Content Partner • Food and Wine • Hangovers • Sip