People all across the world, especially college students, love to get drunk. But, with one too many drinks brings the universally dreaded hangover.
This struggle inspired Lauren Shockey to write a cookbook compiling 50 different hangover cures from around the world. Recipes in her book include Nutella banana crepes from France and chili cheese toast from India.
Shockey is a New York City-based food writer and trained cook. Her new book “Hangover Helper” will hit the shelves Tuesday.
The Alligator spoke with Shockey about hangovers, tasty food and her upcoming book.
Cassidy Hopson: What inspired you to become a chef?
Lauren Shockey: I had always been interested in becoming a chef. Basically, since the time I was in high school, I was reading a lot of food writing…from the time I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a food writer. Then after I graduated college, I was thinking about what it takes to really be a good food writer, to be knowledgeable about the subject matter.
CH: Tell me about the history of hangover foods.
LS: So, one of the oldest records of an actual hangover recipe that’s been written down comes from the 10th century from someone named Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, and he’s written a book called Kitab al-Tabīn. He had a recipe for this Iraqi meat stew called kishkiyya, which has spices and chickpeas and meats and in it. There is a reference saying to eat this dish and you will feel better the next day.
CH: Why did you decide to write a book about hangover foods?
LS: I was reading an article about Korean drinking culture and it mentioned they have quite a high prevalence of drinking in South Korea. I read about what Koreans call ‘hangover stew’ and I thought “oh that’s really interesting” and I looked into this more and it's just one single type of stew but a whole genre of stews within Korean cuisine…it’s just so different from what we as Americans may eat. You know we tend to go for the eggs or pancakes or eggy starchy things and that really got me thinking what do countries around the world eat when they’re hungover.
I was really just interested in the differences in global food culture. The first book I wrote also had a global aspect, it's called “Four Kitchens,” where I learned to cook in four different restaurants around the world, in New York, Vietnam, Israel and France. That was sorta the genesis of my interest in global food culture.
CH: Scientifically speaking, what causes a hangover?
LS: So, what’s interesting about a hangover is that it’s not just one thing. It’s kinda this whole combination or constellation of different things. So, obviously being dehydrated is a big part of it, alcohol is a diuretic so when you're drinking, your body becomes dehydrated but that’s really only just part of it. In addition to being dehydrated when you're hungover, you tend to sleep poorly and when your body breaks down alcohol that causes the feeling of nausea. But then it could also be a little bit of having low blood sugar. But if you look at the science, scientists don’t really have a single explanation of a hangover, it's really sorta of this combination of so many different factors of what’s going on in your body.
CH: During your research, did you notice any regional trends regarding hangover foods across the world?
LS: Hangover soups and stews were probably the biggest trend that I saw. In the Western countries, you still see a lot of eggs being used.
CH: Was there an epic hangover experience that may have inspired your book?
LS: I do definitely get epic hangovers which is unfortunate, the older I get, the worse they seem to be. So, I wouldn’t say there was one epic hangover experience that was really the catalyst for the book.
CH: If you had to choose, what is your favorite recipe from the book?
LS: There are dishes that I found really interesting in the book. There is a recipe for yaka mein, which is a New Orleans dish and that was really cool because its pretty much unknown outside of New Orleans. Then, I also just love chilaquiles because it’s an acceptable way to eat chips and salsa for breakfast.