The Hangover Guidebook
Step 1- Try to locate wallet. Step 2- Freak the shit out. Step 3- Find wallet in pants.
Crusted over with dense sleep, your eyes creak open like an old gatepost. Your first breath lacks the sweet new kiss of life that a newborn inhales, replaced by a cloud of bar smell and metabolized-alcohol breath. After a few feeble attempts, your tongue comes unstuck to bask in an oral arid wasteland. Lifting your hand to clear the drool paste from the corner of your mouth, such sudden movement causes your head to split asunder. You haven't even sat up, yet.
And then you say what we have all said, at one point or another:
I'm never drinking again.
Yeah, right. That's no fun at all.
There are, however, many things one can do to mitigate the effects of your old friend, the hangover.
How many times have you seen the cool, protagonist anti-hero stagger into a cafe and mumble a grizzled: "Coffee...black"?
This of course piques the waitress's interest, and she inevitably falls for him, getting her heart broken in the process because she just can't change him.
Caffeine can actually help a severe headache. Many over-the-counter pain pills have caffeine additives. Caffeine increases the pills' analgesic properties, and it can also allow for quicker circulation and absorption.
Just drinking coffee won't necessarily help your hangover. Some of the physiological effects of caffeine can certainly alleviate certain hangover symptoms, but coffee could also further dehydrate you, making it that much worse.
Drink water, too.
This should be fairly obvious.
Water is the best possible cure for-- and prevention of-- a hangover. Your brain will actually swell due to dehydration, and the pressure of your brain upon your inner skull can contribute to those massive, pounding headaches. Maintaining a proper water balance in your body is the absolute best step to take both the night of drinking and the morning after. Your body is about 60 percent water. Alcohol can severely dehydrate, so get some of it back in you. Hopefully, you can hold it down.
Cures for Nausea
Personally, if I wake up with nausea, I pull the trigger and get that poison out.
There are other remedies for nausea, however, ones that don't necessarily involve brutal, self-induced vomiting. Fresh ginger tea, ginger ale-- both are known to help settle your stomach.
At the very least, get into a hot shower or bath-- preferably, a sauna. You can sweat out some serious toxins in a sauna. I, personally, take a Jack Bauer. Part bath, part shower. Bauer, Jack Bauer.
You can't expect a certain food to cure your hangover. Fruit helps because of the sugars and the vitamins, and eggs certainly replenish certain lost essentials, but there is nothing you can have to cure all your maladies the morning after.
You can, however, try and nip the whole process in the bud with something in your stomach the night before. Getting something filling-- and preferably greasy and starchy to help absorb the alcohol-- into you before or during a full-on rager can help absorb some of that alcohol. Shouldn't be hard to stop drinking long enough to stuff something in your face, I'd think.
The best cure for a hangover is not drinking. That's no fun, though. Alcohol has been a part of human culture for basically as long as there has been human culture. It has been there to remind us of our civility, and at the same time remind us that we are little more than animals. It makes us dance, fight, sing, fall, stumble all over the place and then do it all over again.
If there is a god, I think I'd like him to be the god that Benjamin Franklin said exists:
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
If there is not a god, well, then console yourself with the same beer-- it will make you just as happy, and the hangover will still end up being your own fault.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.