The Hangover Miracle

I drank far too much on Christmas Eve, a fabulous series of indulgences I’ll cover in my next couple of posts, but because the new year is upon us I want to share the great hangover medication that eased my pain the following morning. (Though your hangover may have been addressed already, 2008 might well bring another.) I can’t quite call it a cure, because I don’t believe anything really cures a hangover beyond a big breakfast, a lot of liquids, and a nap. But what I’ve got to offer is as wonderful a tonic as I’ve ever had. The short version is that it’s a simple garlic broth, one I discovered first in the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook under the name Aigo Buido, and again in Lulu’s Provençal Table, as Aïgo Boulido, or Garlic Broth.

In the Chez Panisse book, the recipe involves nothing more than dropping three mashed garlic cloves into a quart of salted water and boiling for 15 minutes with a bay leaf, pepper, and a dribble of good olive oil. In Lulu’s, written by the late, great Richard Olney (my current culinary hero, and also an inspiration to Alice Waters), the accompanying note says that, “In Provence, aïgo boulido (garlic broth) most often serves to soothe systems worn thin from an enthusiastic celebration of the table.” (I love the syntax: “celebration of the table.” Italics mine.) In the Olney/Lulu’s version, the volume is turned up a little with an entire head of garlic and four egg yolks. The idea is that you boil the broth first, strain it, and then pour it slowly over the yolks, whisking all the while. Then you ladle the results over a dry piece of baguette rubbed with garlic.

But you get the basic idea: Drop a handful of mashed garlic cloves into a pot of water, add salt, a bay leaf, and olive oil, and simmer for a little while. Drink as is, or whisk the broth into an egg yolk (or several), and dip some dry bread. The upshot, I’m here to tell you, is a revelation, both because it makes you feel like such a casual, intuitive chef and because nothing I’ve tried in my life has such a calming, soothing, uplifting effect on a body run down from far too much wine.