Russian hangover remedies: Cucumbers, caviar, and a bath
(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Dmitriy Romendik, RBTH – January 1, 2014)
During the holidays, a morning hangover can ruin your day. There are many remedies in the world for a hangover, but Russians swear by theirs.
A folk wisdom says “What is good for a Russian in the evening, is bad for him in the morning.”
This is an important part of the Russian culture, that is to treat painful things such as a morning hangover with humor. The most obvious way to cure a hangover is similia similibus curentur, i.e. “treat like with like,” in the apt words of Paracelsus, a homeopath, who lived in the 16th century.
Therefore, experienced alcoholics drink beer or vodka the morning. Mikhail Bulgakov in his novel “Master and Margarita” gave a description of an ideal hangover breakfast: “A tray with sliced white bread and pressed caviar in a small bowl, pickled mushrooms on a plate served on a small table and, something in a saucepan, and finally vodka in a large decanter. Stepan was particularly struck by the decanter misted from the cold. However, it was clear. he was placed in the slop basin packed with ice.”
The main thing here is not to cross the line, because a hangover is only one step away from binge drinking. If in the morning you drink more than you need, you will want to drink again. And so it goes, on the second day, the third one, and so on.
There are quite a few stories about drunken alcoholics in Russia. The great composer Modest Mussorgsky was an alcoholic, which greatly hindered him from composing music. The famous poet Sergei Yesenin became very aggressive in this state and could hit someone on the head with a bottle.
Binge drinking is said to have often led to suicide or murder. Therefore, there is a version that Alexander Fadeev, head of the Writers’ Union under Stalin, committed suicide in a binge drinking state. The poet Nikolai Rubtsov was killed by his girlfriend, Lyudmila Durbina, who was also a poet, during a drunken quarrel.
Russians have a “morning after” drink in various ways. In Siberia, they often visit the sauna in such cases. It is also advisable to take a contrast shower with cold water.
These methods are effective, but there is a serious danger: in the case of predisposition to cardiovascular disease, a stroke or a heart attack may result. After all, the body is poisoned by alcohol and similar procedures are the ultimate test.
There are also milder ways. The brine from pickles or sauerkraut is often drunk. It helps to regulate the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body.
For the same reason you can drink mare’s milk, ayran, thane, yogurt or homemade kvass. All these drinks have an action similar to brine.
Experienced people recommend Armenian beef hash as the morning detoxification. However, it takes a long time to prepare. You need five or six hours to boil a beef leg. Therefore, there is an easier version for the particularly impatient: a rich broth or any oily soup.
For those who do not eat fatty food or are afraid of excess cholesterol a universal remedy can be recommended: Do not to get drunk during the holidays.
Article also appeared at http://rbth.ru/arts/2014/01/01/russian_hangover_remedies_cucumbers_caviar_and_a_bath_33019.html