Amuse Bouche’

by Brian Clarey

There’s just not all that much going on in the Triad culinary scene this week, so I’m gonna do you all a favor and give you some advice on conquering this time of year’s biggest health risk – the hangover.

Called “24-hour flu,” “the morning after” or, for some people, just “morning,” the hangover will strike when you partake in too much holiday cheer. And like any other malady, a cure starts with prevention.

Don’t drink too much. But if you can’t do that, follow some of these guidelines. Stay away from sweet, fruity drinks – I personally won’t drink anything red, and schnapps, any flavor, will come back to haunt you the next day. Also, try to drink the same thing all night. High-quality liquors (read: “more expensive”) usually have fewer impurities, which could help you out in the morning. And when it comes to taking shots, don’t be a hero.

Some say that eating raw almonds before drinking prevents hangovers, but those same folks say that it also prevents intoxication, so what’s the point?

Also: Try to have a glass of water for every drink you consume. This will keep your system flushed. Have a big glass of water before you go to bed, and a couple of aspirin wouldn’t hurt either. A big part of a hangover is simple dehydration, and water is its natural enemy.

But if you’re bound and determined to poison yourself with alcohol this year, here are some remedies for this special kind of morning sickness.

Some people swear by popcorn, which they say absorbs all the toxins in the stomach. I don’t know about that, but I do know that salt is good for this condition, as much of the body’s sodium is flushed away when drinking. Activated charcoal also performs this absorption activity, so give it a try.

Researchers at Tulane University found that prickly pear helps with hangovers. Good luck finding some. I’ve also heard that kudzu extract can help because of the isoflavones contained therein. And you can get kudzu pretty much anywhere around here. There is other evidence that Vitamin C, Vitamin B, ginger, bananas and probiotics, the “friendly” bacteria” can alleviate the pain and dry mouth that come after big nights.

There’s another piece of advice that claims scalp stimulation as a cure. Proponents believe that pulling your hair in clumps will achieve the desired results. Also, hanging upside down and letting blood rush to your head sometimes helps.

And when I was a freshman in college, a more seasoned student took me to the greenhouse on campus one morning and advised me to breathe in the concentrated oxygen, which he said sped up my system and allowed the hangover to burn off. I have tried the same remedy at oxygen bars and it actually works.

But really, there is no “magic pill” that cures a hangover instantly, and the only thing that works every time is water, Advil and more sleep.

That’s all I got this week. Happy new year. And get to drinking.