April 10, 2013 4:15 pm
Hangover cures vary from place to place. Locals in Tokyo swear by a hearty bowl of ramen, Londoners prefer a full English breakfast and New Yorkers swear by guzzling coconut water. But New Orleans, a city known for its predilection for overindulgence, offers a delectable solution that may actually work. According to researchers at the American Chemical Society’s annual conference, NOLA’s traditional Yak-a-mein soup—a beefy, soy saucy broth loaded with noodles, beef, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, shrimp and onions—holds all the right ingredients for purging the body of the consequences of a night spent partying in the Quarter.
The soup, which also goes by the name “Old Sober,” contains salts, proteins and other ingredients scientists know improve conditions during a hangover. The hangover’s dreaded pain comes from dehydration, paired with the effects of an ethanol-saturated blood stream. Substances called congeners, found in dark liquors such as scotch, cause toxic side effects and acetaldehyde, another substances created when the body breaks alcohol down, also wreaks havoc.
Yak-a-mein’s boiled eggs, however, contain a compound called cysteine, which helps to expedite acetyldehyde’s removal from the body. The salty broth helps to replace sodium, potassium and other salts lost thanks to alcohol’s diuretic effect. While fatty beef doesn’t necessarily help with the hangover itself, it does help slow down the absorption of alcohol—a useful precaution for those who choose to pair the soup with hair-of-the-dog hangover remedies.
If Yak-a-mein doesn’t sound like a particularly southern word, your intuition is correct. According to Big Easy folklore, soldiers stationed in Korea in the 1950s struck upon the hangover goldmine and brought the recipe back with them when the returned home, where it became something of a local staple.
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