You know the story. One quick pint at the pub turned into two, then someone bought a bottle of Jacob's Creek (payday was a long time ago, OK?), and before you knew it, it was 3 AM and you were drinking frozen margaritas and drunk-texting your ex that cat meme you both used to like.
And now, just a few short hours later, the sunlight streaming in through your cheap IKEA curtains tells you on no uncertain terms that It Is The Morning. You have to get up. You've probably misplaced your phone and realise that you almost definitely said something regrettable to a co-worker.
Food is the only thing that can help you right now. You need sustenance, and fast
Bacon sarnie? Crisps? A strong cup of tea? Deciding what to eat when hungover is always a dangerous dance with nausea but MUNCHIES is here to help. We asked some of our favourite people in food and drink—from chefs to restaurant critics to food writers—what they eat when they're hanging and gross AF and even just opening the Deliveroo app feels like a Herculean task.
Take heed of these wise culinary sages—they have weathered many a hangover between them. You can thank us later, when the carbs start to kick in.
Freddie Janssen, London-based picklemaker and author of Pickled. "If I'm hanging and I have the day off, it's dumplings in soy sauce and Sriracha for breakfast. I always have a few different dumps in my freezer—kimchi, pork and chive. They're a great drunk food and make a great hangover breakfast.
If I'm still hanging after a day's of work, it's Dr. Oetker's Ristorante Mozzarella pizza, every time. I add tinned anchovy, rocket, and some homemade chili oil to sort of fancy it up. That, a pint of ice cold milk, and a stupid hangover film, and The Fear slowly starts to disappear. Just to class it up more, I eat the pizza in bed—always. A wooden chopping board turns into a 'bed plank' for the pizza, milk, and laptop.
I kinda love being hungover and embrace it every time, with the same ritual. I eat a lot of pizza."
George Pell, general manager of L'Escargot in Soho, London. "In the South West of France it is very much the norm to devour a Cassoulet to try and recover from the excesses of drinking. However, we find that in Soho a croque monsieur (essentially a slab of melted cheese and ham in between to slices of heavily buttered sourdough) and a chilled glass of Champagne does the trick."
Zuza Zak, author of Polish cookbook Polska: New Polish Cooking. "My dad has always maintained that brine from sauerkraut is the Polish hangover cure. I think he's right because now everyone is talking about the power of fermented foods and drinks. I prefer fermented beetroot juice though. To make this you need to peel and slice some beetroot and cover them completely in a mixture of warm water with about a tablespoon of sea salt. I add a few pimento berries, a slice of rye bread, and a bay leaf too. Cover this with a tea towel and leave for four to five days to ferment, then transfer the beetroot to a jar, cover in the brine, and place in your fridge. You can drink any leftover brine when you have a hangover."
King Cook, chef and owner of London vegan restaurant Cook Daily. "My favourite hangover cure will definitely have to be a vegan noodle soup bowl with lemongrass, lime leaves, lots of chilies, and fresh herbs. If I'm not blowing my nose halfway through then the cure isn't working!"
Lee Tiernan, owner and chef of Black Axe Mangal. "I mean it's hard to beat a fry up, isn't it? Chinese food is fucking amazing too but way less accessible. Have to go with the fry up and a mug of tea, followed by Ridley Scott's Gladiator on the sofa in my pants."
Josh Katz, chef and owner of Berber & Q and Shawarma Bar. "My cure for a hangover is always a salt beef sandwich on rye, preferably from Monty's Deli, who make the best salt beef in London. It's perfect comfort food and gets you back on your feet in no time."
Jackson Berg, head chef and co-owner of Xiringuito. "San Pellegrino grapefruit flavour. It's like the elixir of life when it goes down the hatch. Also a trip to Yo Sushi!. I can sit in that place for hours watching the belt go round and soaking up the sushi with excessive amounts of soy and wasabi paste."
Conor Sheehan, front-of-house and co-owner of Xiringuito. "Sparkling water is always a help first thing. Then when I'm ready for food, a pad Thai, spring rolls, and a beer usually sort me out."
Riaz Phillips, author of Belly Full: Caribbean Food in the UK. "I live in New Cross in South East London so it has to be rice and peas and jerk chicken from our local, Smokey Jerkey. It always works a treat for all us who live in the flat. I guess the rice and peas helps soak up all the booze, the protein from the chicken gives you some energy, and then the super spicy 'Scorpion' sauce really gives you a wake up slap."
Ryan Chetiyawardana, bartender and owner of London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan. "My family super power is not getting hungover, so I'm not a mess the next day (thankfully!), but I still hanker for a few things when I've been out drinking. The ultimate for me though is a mug of tea. Although I'm a huge advocate of real tea, at this point, it's 100-percent builder's tea—brewed hot and strong with full fat milk—served with a bacon and tattie scone roll with mustard and ketchup. There's nothing this combo can't fix."
Nuno Mendes, Portuguese chef at Chiltern Firehouse in London's Mayfair, formerly of Viajante in East London. "My hangover cure and ultimate comfort food is the Portuguese congee, which we know as canja de galinha. I was over the moon when Ta Ta Eatery opened around the corner from my home in East London. Meng and Ana's version includes an Asian-style green sauce and they serve it with chicken skin and dough sticks."
Joudie Kalla, author of Palestine on a Plate. "My go-to hangover cure is to basically cook nothing. I don't get hangovers often because I don't drink like crazy but when I do go off the rails, it would probably end up being on a Saturday, which makes Sunday the best day to suffer. On a Sunday, a roast is most definitely needed—with extra Yorkshire puddings and a tall glass of fiery Bloody Mary to wake me up. It's done the trick several times."
Edson Diaz-Fuentes, Mexican chef formerly of East London's Santo Remedio. "There is no better hangover cure than chilaquiles verdes with a fried egg on top and washed down with an Ojo Rojo (a beer with tomato juice and spicy salsas). It's tasty, filling, spicy, and delicious."
Stevie Parle, chef and restaurateur behind Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London, Sardine, and Palatino. "The first thing I reach for is coffee. My go-to is the back garden roast served at Craft London, where I also pick up a restorative carb-friendly pastry to soak up the alcohol. If I'm still feeling ropey later on in the day a huge plate of warm bucatini carbonara sorts me out—the pepper really helps pick you up off the floor!"
Ferhat Dirik, chef and Twitter account handler of Mangal 2. "Wake your arse up. Get dressed. Drag yourself out of your home and head straight to Mangal 2. Order a cold mezze starter with warm bread, some halloumi, and of course, our famous mixed grill. This comes with rice and a chili and garlic sauce. Get that meat in you and only wash it down with Coke. That's Coca-Cola. Have a baklava and a Turkish coffee to finish it off. Ask for the bill and pay it all with cash, leaving a nice, American-sized tip for the poor underage waiters. And finally, leave a five-star TripAdvisor review. That would make me very happy. Wait, what was the question?"
Marina O'Loughlin, Guardian restaurant critic. "The cure to all of my self-inflicted ills is a bacon and marmalade sandwich: soft, thick white bread (nothing artisan or sourdough or fancy), spread with butter and a generous layer of bitter, thick-cut, preferably home-made marmalade. Then five thin rashers (no more, no less: the hangover makes me obsessive) of smoked bacon, cooked till crisp and just a tiny bit blackened with, the final flourish for full eye-opening effect, a squirt of hot chili sauce. A nice dispersible aspirin-Nurofen-Berocca cocktail and you're newly invincible."
Bruno Loubet, chef-patron of Grain Store. "I'm not a big drinker, but if I do have a night out, the day after I always crave a vegetable broth—simple, delicious, and full of nutrients, it gets me back on track. A pint of water with two Beroccas is also a must. It'll make you feel better in no time."
Missy Flynn, bartender. Previously co-owner of Rita's, now co-owner of Quilombero in London. "Mine is honestly just a glass of sparkling water (Badoit or Vichy Catalan ONLY) and a pinch of salt. If that's not exciting enough, may I also suggest a gulp of cold milk. But you have to open the fridge, go from the carton, put it immediately back, and pretend it never happened.
Or, take a can of dolphin-friendly tuna, drain it out, get a fork and break it up, and make a little hole in centre. Then squeeze some mayo into it—because a hangover has no time for jars. Add salt and pepper, mix it up, and eat it all."
Gabe Pryce, chef. Previously co-owner and chef of Rita's, now co-owner and chef of Quilombero in London. "Any cold meats, fresh jalapeños, fried eggs, Cholula hot sauce, corn crackers (the most texturally satisfying adult 'rusk' product), mayonnaise, a beer, and the nearest television to your bed. All in bed. Then go back to bed."
Harneet Baweja, founder of modern Indian restaurant Gunpowder in London. "My go-to hangover cure starts by mixing leftover rice with onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic. Fry it all with an egg plus any odds and ends you have in the fridge. It's a quick and easy version of Masala fried rice and the rice works well at soaking up the alcohol."
Meera Sodha, author of Fresh India and Made in India. "My first port of call is equal parts fizzy water and apple juice to quench the unquenchable thirst. After that, only an aloo paratha or two will restore my soul. I keep some in the freezer just for this purpose and eat them with a salty, hot, and face-slappingly sharp lime pickle and a bit of yogurt on the side."
This first appeared on MUNCHIES in February 2017.