Gastronomic recovery plan
What to do when you plan to overdo it
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
With the holidays coming up, let’s talk about overindulgence of all kinds.
First let’s look at over eating. Nobody’s better at it than me. A five-pound bag of Peanut M&M’s, no problem. An entire extra large pizza with anchovies, piece of cake. Six red velvet cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting — in one sitting. A two-pound bag of baby spinach, sautéed with sausage, onions and garlic — gone in 60 seconds. That’s my confession.
It’s not hard to overeat when Thanksgiving has so many courses. Start with the Chex Mix and then the cubed cheese, crudités and liver wrapped in bacon. I suffer from sour stomach and acid reflux so I often take an over-the-counter acid reducer when I’m going to be putting on the feedbag. But consult your physician first. I’ve found a few things that range in degrees of natural that soothe my upset tummy.
A teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water will help relieve the bloated gassy feeling and reduce acids. And even though baking soda’s a naturally occurring product, it’s still a chemical, sodium bicarbonate, just like pure bottled 10,000-year-old glacier water, which is an atom of oxygen bonded to two atoms of nasty hydrogen! For those unfamiliar with hydrogen’s previous work — remember the Hindenburg! But seriously, baking soda relieves bloat by neutralizing acid and letting you have a big burp. Just like when you were a baby and mommy used to pat you on the back. But it does have contraindications, and it’s not for those with low calcium, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver damage or nursing or pregnant mothers.
Tea has been used for thousands of years as a stimulant, medicinal and restorative. My two favorites for feeling better are jasmine and chamomile. Jasmine tea is made from Chinese flowers and has a pleasant flavor not unlike weak regular tea. And new studies claim that just holding something warm in your hand, like a steaming mug of coffee or tea, improves your disposition. Jasmine has an herbal faintly nutty flavor with a slightly grassy finish. Chamomile is an old remedy that’s now widely available in the grocery store. It has a slightly bitter finish and also is a relaxant, which makes napping on a full stomach on Thanksgiving easier. Flavor-wise I prefer the jasmine, but the chamomile does double duty as something to have before bed.
There is a way to prevent that full feeling from overwhelming you even on Thanksgiving. It’s called Le Trou Normand, which means “Norman hole.” During a heavy meal in Normandy the custom is to take a break or pause between large courses. Hors d’oeuvres, appetizer, soup — then a break before the fish course. That sort of thing. During this pause maybe a half or third of a shot of apple brandy is consumed. The apple brandy, called Calvados, creates a hole or a space in the stomach, to fit more food in. You can substitute any warming brown liquor for the apple brandy, or a Grappa or an Aquavit or any Eau de Vie made from grapes or grain. Vodka can also be used, but I like tiny little thimble shots of Bourbon or Brandy because the sugar is right up front. And I’d avoid tequila and gin because they’re too dry.
The worst kind of overindulgence is a hangover. And there have been secret hangover cures since wet grain first fermented and our Geico-hating cave ancestors indulged and got trashed. For me, time, water and maybe jasmine or chamomile tea help, as does Alka-Seltzer and a club soda and aspirin. The fizzy stuff helps move the oxygen into your brain. I’ve also found that Gazpacho soup, chicken noodle soup, wonton, egg drop, Tom Yum, Miso and hot and sour soups help with a hangover. Miso may have been created for just that purpose. Encebollado, a spicy Ecuadorian onion soup, was definitely created to cure a hangover. The spice and broth have a numbing effect on the stomach. They soup is served alongside a rice dish, which helps absorb the impurities and unprocessed alcohol in the system. The soup works on altitude sickness too.
The best cure for a hangover is preventive. Just don’t over-do. And if you do, avoid any sugars while drinking and consume as much water as possible. This will help hydrate your cranial lining and cut down on the ferocity of the hangover headache.
This week I drank two new wines and two old ones. I’m in a pattern where I’m not very adventurous, so I’m revisiting some of the old standby wines. Specifically the 2004 Muga Rioja and the Louis Latour 2005 Santenay.
There’s a huge amount of pinot noir from the Santenay area in Burgundy available in New Hampshire. Besides Latour, there’s Jadot, Faiveley, Bernard Morey, Drouhin and Girardin. And the village of Santenay is divided into vineyards and smaller viticulture areas. Areas like Clos de Tavennes, Beaurepaire, Clos Faubard and Clos de la Mouches all produce a better product than the “village level” Santenay. And prices on this Cote du Beaune wine are really low right now, as it takes a back seat to its more expansive neighbors like Clos Vougeot and Vosne-Romanee.
• 2005 Krug Chardonnay — $19.99 from Carneros. Totally un-oaked! But a touch too sweet with a manufactured finish. Maybe it does need a little oak.
• 2004 Trefethen Oak Ridge Vineyard Dry Riesling — $18.99. I found this wine a bit under-developed. It was nice to taste a white that wasn’t chardonnay or champagne, but this was too subtle. Coconut milk flavors with a touch of honey in a too watery matrix.