How the Rest of the World Cures Their Hangovers
Your typical American hangover cures run the gamut from cold leftover pizza to Pedialyte, pickle juice, and Advil. But if you’re bar-hopping abroad and wake up feeling like you just spent the night in a jet engine, you’d be well-served to learn the local remedies and menu items to salvage your day.
We consulted with our friends at the language-learning app Babbel, and Frida Harju, a nutritionist at Lifesum, to find the most reached-for hangover cures in 12 countries around the world. Even if you’re not headed abroad, there are some true pearls of wisdom in here. Not that we’ll be reaching for the pickled herring anytime soon, but if that Glacier Freeze Gatorade hasn’t been cutting it lately, well… consider the pickled herring?
IrelandHow to say you’re hungover: The Irish idioms for overindulging are, of course, classics. They might call a hangover “the brown bottle flu,” or say they are “in Lego” or “have an inexplicable headache.”
The cure: A full Irish breakfast consisting of bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, fried tomato, fried eggs, baked beans, and soda bread.
So things got a little carried away in, let’s say, Dublin, where the whiskey floweth freely and cheaply. The absolute carb-bomb that is the traditional Irish breakfast helps get your blood sugar levels back to normal, but the heart-stopping fat content can deliver a double-whammy to your system. “Take your eggs boiled instead, for a boost of protein and vitamins B and D,” advises Frida Harju, our nutritionist extraordinaire. “Fried tomatoes are a great choice since they release vitamins A and C as well as lycopene when cooked.”
RussiaHow to say you’re hungover: U menya pokhmel’e. Pokhkmel’e translates to “after being drunk.”
The cure: Kvas -- a highly appetizing drink made from black or rye bread soaked in water, sugar, and yeast until it forms a mildly alcoholic blend. You can also consume it as a soup.
The rye bread here is key and a handy trick to add to your own hangover repertoire, since it’s high in energy-producing B vitamins like B-1 and B-6. This sour concoction also contains high levels of magnesium, sugars, lactic acid, and amino acids. “Magnesium is important when battling a hangover,” says Harju. “It helps break down alcohol and expel it from the body.”
GermanyHow to say you’re hungover: Ich habe einen Kater. Loosely translated, this means “I have a tomcat,” though it likely derives from Katarrh, a flu-like symptom.
The cure: Rollmops -- pickled herring with gherkin and onions.
This katerfruhstuck -- or hangover breakfast -- is high in electrolytes, and as a fermented food, it promotes a healthy gut. As any morning-after Gatorade aficionado is well aware, electrolytes are crucial to restoring your body back to sanity. Still, I can’t exactly picture myself housing these bad boys first thing in the morning.
JapanHow to say you’re hungover: Futsuka-yoi shiteru! Roughly translated to “two-days drunk.” Same.
The cure: Umeboshi -- salty pickled plums soaked in green tea.
The plums are high in sodium and potassium, which, if you’re too dizzy to read the back of your Powerade bottle, are the key elements of electrolytes. They’re also highly alkaline, which helps balance the acidity in the blood after a big night and can reduce symptoms like loss of balance, headaches, and nausea.
ChinaHow to say you’re hungover: Su zui, literally translated to “stay-over drunk.”
The cure: Congee -- a special rice porridge and traditional Chinese comfort food.
Though the rice itself doesn’t have a whole lot of nutritional value, it leaves you feeling full and hydrated, generally the opposite of how you felt when you woke up.
IndiaHow to say you’re hungover: Atyadhik nasha, translated to “highly intoxicated” in Hindi.
The cure: Lemon water and herbal tea.
Herbal teas are loaded with antioxidants, helping the liver recover faster and process the toxins you’ve ingested. Harju recommends adding ginger or lavender to reduce nausea, but drink a ton of water, since tea still contains caffeine.
FranceHow to say you’re hungover: J’ai la gueule de bois. Literally translated it means “I’ve got a wooden mouth.”
The cure: Cassoulet -- a hearty casserole or stew filled with tons of meat (like pork, goose, and duck) and white beans. Another go-to is traditional French onion soup.
The cassoulet is hearty and leaves you feeling invigorated, but that’s pretty much the extent of its benefits. Harju warns it’s not likely to have the vitamins you’ll need to really make a difference in your hangover. The cheese on top of the onion soup can help slow alcohol’s absorption into the bloodstream, but you’re better off eating some before drinking your way through Bordeaux.
ItalyHow to say you’re hungover: Ho i postumi della sbornia, translated in the always-dramatic Italian to “the after-death of drunkenness.”
The cure: Double espresso, of course.
When a night of limoncello leaves you lagging, caffeine delivers an energy boost and has been found to act against the ethanol in alcohol, which according to Harju, reduces a hangover-induced headache. Just remember if you’re not a regular coffee drinker to go easy on it, and keep drinking water regardless, since caffeine dehydrates you.
MexicoHow to say you’re hungover: Estoy crudo, translates to “I’m feeling raw.”
The cure: Mexican shrimp and shellfish salad. Or, if you want to go a little more anecdotal, try menudo -- a thick traditional soup made with tripe (yum, beef stomach), lime, onion, cilantro, and chili peppers.
If you go the salad route, “a combination of fresh seafood, onions, chiles, and lime juice makes this a refreshing hangover cure,” says Harju. The clutch ingredient is the lime, which is easy on an upset stomach and leaves you feeling full and refreshed. That’s all well and good, but “Menudo beats the crudo” rhymes and thus is far more valuable advice than any dietitian could dispense.
PeruHow to say you’re hungover: Resaca, a word typically used to describe the movement of waves back out to the ocean, or roughly how your head feels most of the next day.
The cure: Ceviche, Peru’s most delicious contribution to American cuisine. It’s made from raw fish, which is “cooked” in the acid from South American green lemons, along with chili, salt, onion, and coriander.
The vitamin C in the citrus juice gives a boost to the immune system and helps your body’s alkaline levels. The fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B, which help reduce nausea and headaches.
ColombiaHow to say you’re hungover: Tengo guayabo, which literally translates to “I have a mango tree.” Sounds much nicer than it is.
The cure: Sancocho -- a soup made with meat (in Colombia, usually pork), potatoes, corn, vegetables, and broth, best enjoyed at the market next to Andres Carne de Res in Bogota.
Though the slow cooking of the soup breaks down most of the vitamins found in the meat and veggies, it’s still soothing and hydrating and the overwhelming choice for hungover Colombians.
South AfricaHow to say you’re hungover: Babelas, a word of Zulu origin that literally translates to "hangover." For extra emphasis, say “Ag, babelas!”
The cure: Ostrich omelet. Ostrich eggs are so large, it’s equivalent to a two-dozen-chicken-egg omelet. Feed some friends, then wash it down with amasi, a soured milk popular with the party crowd.
“Ostrich eggs are great sources of magnesium and iron,” Harju says. “The former helps your body break down the alcohol, and the latter works to reduce hangover symptoms.” Plus, they’re lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than traditional eggs. All the relief, none of the heart attack! The amasi is also rich in probiotics, which can help your stomach recover and restore your body’s pH.