Every year, people around the world wake up to start their New Year with a splitting headache, iffy stomach, and a complete aversion to light. It is a feeling that binds us, reminds us of our humanity, and keeps us grounded. Unfortunately, it is a feeling we are likely to experience again and again throughout the year: the hangover. Thankfully, for as long as there have been hangovers, people have been driven by their own mild suffering to innovate unique and most importantly, effective hangover cures, based on a subtle fusion of science and folklore.
For the ancient Romans, there was nothing better than a fried canary or run-of-the-mill owl’s egg to cure those morning-after-woes. Today, many of us depend on the slightly more reliable mix of ibuprofen and water. Whatever your solution, the pseudo-science of hangover-healthcare is still a vibrant, and global practice that many travelers are sure to encounter.
As we approach the New Year and prepare for our own celebrations, we thought it fitting to ask Departful contributors to submit hangover cures and remedies they’ve come across during their travels. Of course, if you have any to add, please let us know by leaving a comment below. With that, here are six international hangover cures to kickstart your New Year.
Haejangguk – South Korea
By Seth Mason and Alex Rathy
Drinking is a huge part of Korean culture; so, naturally, hangover cures are abound throughout the country. Korea’s most famous headache-healer is the spicy soup known as haejangguk – literally, “soup to chase a hangover” – and you can find restaurants serving it up on almost any corner of the republic. In fact, these kinds of places are open 24 hours a day, catering to everyone from the lunch time rush to the late night crawl. These hangover-cure soups come in different types depending on the province but they are all generally spicy, delicious, and won’t hurt your wallet.
Koreans have been banishing their benders with a variation of haejangguk for close to 1000 years, since the late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). Although the recipe for this seongjutang (“soup to get sober”) was slightly different than that used to make modern-day haejangguk, the composition was more or less the same – clearly indicating it as a precursor to today’s tipple tonic. The soup has been enjoyed throughout the centuries by commoners and high-ranking officials alike, and remains wildly popular with a large swath of the population today.
There are many different variations of Haejangguk – including a cold version made with seafood commonly found in the Uljin region of North Gyeongsan province – but the basic recipe involves beef broth, congealed ox blood, pork spine, napa cabbage and a variety of other vegetables. It is served with the typical sides of rice and kimchi along with other assorted dishes. Although it does have a kick, it’s not too hot – even for most foreigners. And with the price right, it’s the perfect end to a pounding head.
The Caesar – Canada
By JP Bervoets
In 1969, Walter Chell, the restaurant manager at the Calgary Inn in Alberta Canada, created a drink to celebrate the opening of the inn’s new Italian restaurant. Taking inspiration from a Venetian dish, Spaghetti alle Vongole (spaghetti with tomato sauce and clams), Chell mixed vodka, with tomato juice, mashed clam nectar, Worcestershire sauce, and a blend of spices to create a drink that would forever change the face of Canada’s drinking (and hangover) scene. Chell called it “the Caesar”, sometimes called “Bloody Caesar”, in honour of his Italian heritage.
Around the same time, the Motts Company was developing its own tomato-clam juice mixture, or “Clamato Juice”, however, early sales were slow with only 500 cases sold in 1970. Despite its slow beginning, Canadians now consume over 350 million Caesars each year, almost all of which use Motts Clamato Juice as a main ingredient.
While many have likened the drink to a Bloody Mary, which many bartenders in the US and internationally would suggest in its place, the mixture of clam and tomato juice gives the drink a distinctly different flavour. Unfortunately, the thought of drinking anything related to clams has been for many around the world, rather off-putting, keeping the Caesar delightfully defined as Canada’s top cocktail, and hangover cure.
Pickled Herring – Germany
By Lauren Barth
So you’ve indulged in slightly too much German beer last night and now you have a raging Katzenjammer (“hangover” – literally meaning a cat’s wail). As one of the top countries for beer consumption per capita and with centuries of strong beer tradition, you can be sure that German’s have encountered their fair share of hangovers and have, thus, devised the perfect cure: pickled or marinated herring.
This traditional hangover cure usually makes an appearance in the Katerfrüstück (“hangover breakfast”) wrapped around onions and gherkins, and appropriately termed ‘Rollmops’. This interesting concoction packs plenty of salt and oil, two essential combatants of common hangover symptoms. Rollmops can be found with ease throughout North Germany and in larger cities, but can always be made at home with these common German ingredients.
The “Mongolian Mary” – Outer Mongolia
By Philip Holdsworth
Perhaps one of the most outlandish traditional hangover cure appropriately comes from the most remote region on the list, Mongolia; or outer Mongolia to be precise. Tomato juice is not that unusual as a morning after cocktail, but add two pickled sheep eyeballs and it’s a whole new ballgame, so to speak. While they might be considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, frankly if you can stomach this cure, you’re probably not sweating the hangover either.
Umeboshi – Japan
By JP Bervoets
Beyond playing an important role in Japanese cuisine, umeboshi have also long been used to support good digestion, prevent nausea, improve liver function, and combat fatigue. It should come as little surprise then that these sour pickled apricot-like fruits, which are chock full of electrolytes, sodium, potassium, and dietary fibre, are cited regularly as the ultimate hangover cure.
Unlike the Caesar, which is only really consumed in Canada, umeboshi is consumed widely outside of Japan, though with slight variations. In Vietnam, pickled ume fruits are referred to as xí muội or ô mai. In Mexico, pickled apricots combined with salt and dried chili are called chamoy; and, in South Asia, Indian gooseberries are similarly prepared and called amla.
Tripe Soup – Mexico, El Salvador, Turkey, Bulgaria
By Lauren Barth
It cannot merely be coincidence that several countries around the world swear by tripe as the go-to hangover killer. Tripe, the edible stomach lining of various animals, often shows up the morning after in the form of a soup.
Mexican ‘Menudo’ (not to be confused with the popular 80’s boy-band Menudo which is responsible for launching Ricky Martin’s career) is a spicy and salty soup made with red chili paste, chili peppers, lime and cilantro in a clear broth while El Salvador’s ‘Sopa de Patas’ includes cow’s feet, corn, yucca, chayotes and plantains in addition to cow’s stomach. The spiciness of Menudo is thought to cleanse pores to literally ‘sweat out’ the alcohol from the night before. Sopa de Patas has an additional boost with the starchiness of the yucca and vitamin B in the plantains.
Now moving east to Turkey, ‘Iskembe Corbasi’ is a soup traditionally made with cow stomach (veal and lamb stomach versions also popular) and other ingredients such as red pepper powder, garlic, vinegar and egg yolk. The Bulgarian take on tripe soup is called “Shkembe Chorba” which is similar to the Turkish version yet paprika and milk are often added. The saltiness of these soups is said to restore electrolytes.
Just in case we’re missing the next best international hangover cure, leave us a comment and let us know how you take care of yourself on those rough mornings.