I have done my fair share of researching two things: How to detox after days of binge eating and drinking, and how to quicken the process of getting over a hangover. Why? Because I binge eat and drink over the holidays and have found myself kneeling in front of the porcelain god on many a January 1st.
Chances are, many of you, like me, may wake up January 1 and think why did I drink so much?
If you find yourself in this predicament, there are certain things to eat and drink, pre and post binge, that may help you not spend the very first day of the year in guilt and agony.
Now the most obvious advice, which takes no research whatsoever, is simply to not drink superfluously. Durr. Okay. Sure. I don’t know about you but, I plan on learning those lessons in 2017, just like I planned to do so in 2016, 2015, and well…before.
So, let’s cut out the bullshit and talk about semi-adulting so as to bounce back from a heavy night of partying with a preemptive and more manageable approach.
There are two ways to get over a hangover, at least by popular cultural anecdotes anyway.
There’s detoxing, which usually means eating but more so drinking particular concoctions which flush one’s body from toxic substances.
This method doesn’t particularly work for me. When I’ve had a night of excessive drinking I’m not well poised to detox the day after. Like, I ain’t about that goji berry life when I feel like I’m going to hurl my insides.
The opposite approach is to eat anything, even if it’s not particularly healthy, to move past the nausea and brain imploding headaches by any means possible. Some people swear by coffee, greasy eggs, and bacon, or drinking tons of sports drinks. Still others subscribe to the ole ‘hair of the dog’ antic i.e. drinking more alcohol to cure drinking too much.
Going this route doesn’t sit well with me either. It makes me further feel like crap from drinking and eating processed crap to get over the drinking too much and feeling like crappy Mc Crap crap.
The best way to go? I think it’s moderation, of course, but also, it’s striking a balance between a strict detox and relying on fat and processed foods alone for getting back on your feet.
Below, you’ll find my suggestions for how to rock New Year’s Eve and not feel like you’re going to throw up your insides come Jan 1st. Ah, goals. Shall we?
ADULTING A LITTLE AND PLANNING AHEAD
My number one advice is to plan ahead.
No, planning ahead does not mean keeping your pad well stocked with copious amounts of vodka in the event you run out. Planning ahead means keeping your home stocked with food and (non-alcoholic) drinks for strategic consumption.
Why is this so important? Because when you’re hungover and outta whack, you’re not going to have the stamina to stand on your feet and blend a smoothie or whip up eggs and bacon to feel better. So it’s important to keep your kitchen stocked with no brainer healthy shit to get you on the road to recovery, and having a smoothie blender on-site will make it even easier.
I always laugh in particular when I read articles that advise blending a smoothie to get through a hangover.
I’m like bruh, if my head already feels like someone is drilling from the inside out, the noise of a blender is going to be intolerable.
What to do then?
Adult-up and do a little grocery shopping before January 1 and prep simple munchables ahead of time.
Some items to keep stocked:
Water and coconut water are going to keep you hydrated. Coconut water in particular is chock full of electrolytes and is far superior in the nutrients it offers in comparison to sports drinks. Plus 100% pure coconut water is hella delicious and easier to stomach than plain ole water.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium which is exactly what your body needs to repair itself after a night of heavy drinking. Also, there is no prep involved here. Just peel and eat— even the drunkest of drunkies should be able to manage that. Er, right?
Fresh ginger helps manage nausea. Grated ginger with hot water can sooth your body post vomiting, or can even help keep queasy feelings and actual vomiting at bay altogether.
You may not have the ability to grate fresh ginger the morning after NYE so this is something you can easily do ahead of time. Simply grate fresh ginger and keep it in the fridge. On the first of Jan, crawl to the kitchen and stick about a heaping spoon full of already grated ginger into one cup of water, heat, and drink up. Go back to bed.
The same goes for lemon water. Keep lemon wedges cut and refrigerated. Squeeze into water and drink the morning after. The vitamin C found in lemons helps cleanse your system and halt liver inflammation. The more lemon water you drink, the better.
You probably won’t be able to cook if you’re hungover. Boil eggs the day before and refrigerate them. Also, cook off turkey bacon the day before and store in the refrigerator. All you’ll have to do is nuke ’em in the morning to get some non-greasy protein packed food in your belly.
BEFORE AND AFTER: WHY IT’S ALL IMPORTANT
Another important thing to remember is this: What you eat before a night of partying is just as important as what you eat after if you don’t want to feel shitty.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that eating well, or a lot, after you binge drink will reduce the intensity of your hangover.
It’s equally important to eat well before you rage. In fact, some truly sound advice that years of partying have taught me is the importance of being super hydrated before you go off to your pre-game shenanigans.
This means starting December 31st with plenty of water (be it plain or with the ginger or lemon as described above) and coconut water. In fact, I say chug, chug, chug—that coconut water. Look, it won’t trick your body out of alcohol poisoning. But loading your body up with electrolytes before and after partying will reduce the risk of hangover woes.
It’s also important to eat well on the 31st. I know, I know, you’re tempted to skip a meal to slither into your hot lil dress for the NYE party you’re hittin’ up. But trust me, your body will not reward you for skipping a meal.
There are foods you can eat which won’t make you look or feel bloated which will keep you stay comfortably full. Eating balanced meals before you drink will also make you less susceptible to getting so crunk drunk that you can’t function for the better half of the night. So what should you eat?
Grilled or baked chicken, salmon, quinoa, hummus, and avocado make for excellent pre-party foods to help your blood alcohol level from increasing.
Desi it up before you party it up and eat roti and egg curry beforehand so you can get some healthy carbs and protein in your system. Trust me, your body will thank you!
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
Do you, girl, but be responsible. You can still have fun and take care of yourself. Eat, drink, and be merry (but not stupid), ya feel?
It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.
From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking
Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies. Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.
With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.
Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.
Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity. From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.
These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.
Passion is something many claim to have, but few truly possess. Whether it’s hobbies, professions or romances, it’s the secret ingredient we all crave but is quite difficult to come by. But on meeting Chef Devan Rajkumar — aka Chef Dev — it takes just a few moments to understand true passion. For the Indo Guyanese chef from Toronto, passion has always been food and its power to connect, nourish, excite and represent.
Whatever the outlet, Rajkumar feeds his mission to bean ambassador for modern, West and East Indian cuisine. I recently sat down with him to talk about this and the experience of bringing Indo Caribbean flavors to South Asia and beyond.
Feeding a passion for food
“The sights, the sounds, the aromatics. The excitement of the kitchen has just always appealed to me,” he began. “Food moves me in a certain way. I want to nurture and nourish. I’ve just always wanted to do for others.”
As he sat back in a ‘Guyana vs. the world’ tank top, Rajkumar’s energy was palpable.
“I’ve always lived and breathed food, all day, all night. Like I’m talking about food right now. I’m constantly talking about food.”
To Rajkumar, food is education — one of the best (and most enjoyable) ways to learn, teach and explore the world — and he credits his older brother Jai for inspiring this mindset. Jai was the first to introduce him to different cuisines, teach him to be curious about the world and show him how to challenge the norms of a “typical brown kid.”
Despite this encouragement, however, a culinary career wasn’t Rajkumar’s first instinct. The son of a businessman, he initially jumped around universities and career paths. He also struggled with substance abuse and grief after Jai’s passing. Through all the challenges, food remained a constant, and the sense of community it created was a powerful draw.
“At a very young age, I recognized how food made me feel if I was in a bad mood and how it made others feel,” he shared.
He’s always looked forward to sitting around a table with friends and family, enjoying a nice meal, and how everybody could share their stories or just forget their troubles.
“Food is a very powerful vehicle for transporting someone.”
In 2009, Rajkumar finally followed his passion and joined a culinary school. He realized he had a knack for creating this experience for others.
“I realized I had the power and the gift to nourish and nurture someone else in this way,” and it became irresistible.
A cook with no boundaries, Rajkumar didn’t want to limit the number of people he reached to just those in Canada.
For many, success in the culinary world is having a thriving restaurant, but after spending six months opening one with The Food Dudes in 2015, Rajkumar realized this route wasn’t for him.
“I wanted more culture,” he explained. “I wanted to learn and not so much get my ass kicked, but to be a sponge. I knew I needed to travel to broaden my horizons.”
So he did. Rajkumar spent months cooking in India, London, Peru and Dubai. He shared his experiences on social media and people back home took note.
“When I returned to Toronto,” he continued, “that trip had established me as a cook who had no boundaries. As someone who wasn’t afraid to explore and get out of their comfort zone.”
And get out of his comfort zone he did.
“From catering to a pop-up abroad to filming ‘Cityline’ and speaking engagements, every day is different,” he explained. “I’ve had my bouts with imposter syndrome, but ultimately, I’ve gotten to make more of an impact than just opening a restaurant.”
That impact has especially been prominent in South Asia.
Rajkumar embraces not only his Caribbean culture, but his South Asian roots as well.
The temple he grew up in was a blend of Guyanese and East Indians, so he knew foods from a typical Guyanese household like alu curry and saijan but also East Indian favorites like dhokla and malai kofta.
“Ultimately, we came from India,” he declared. “I embrace the culture and I am very comfortable leaning back and forth into it. It’s in me. It’s who I am.”
In fact, Rajkumar noted his career became much more defined and successful when he really began to identify as not just a chef, but as an Indo Guyanese Canadian chef.
Hearing this, it was no surprise that Guyana, India and Pakistan stand out as some of his favorite destinations.
“Guyana is hugely impactful for me,” he shared, having visited his parents’ homeland frequently. “As soon as that door opens [at the airport], you smell Guyana. You smell the sugarcane burning from rum factories. I have all these wonderful sights, sounds, smells and flavors from those trips.”
His sentiments for India are similar.
“Incredible India is incredible India,” he referred to the country’s tourism slogan. “Every 100-200 kilometers, the menus can change completely. I can live in India for the rest of my life and never see it all.”
Rajkumar’s first trip in 2020 was only nine days long, but its impact stayed with him.
He couldn’t have been more excited to return for a month, earlier this year, and host what his friends there dubbed the “Mad Love Pop-Up,” after one of his signature sayings.
He filled the menu for the 18-day event with global dishes like ceviche and scotch eggs but infused them with West and East Indian flavors like masala, jerk and cassareep — a rich extract of the bitter cassava native to Guyana. Before he left, he even prepared Guyana’s national dish of pepper pot, a hearty meat stew, for the staff meal.
“My whole thought process was ‘let me give these people — my family there — an experience they’ve never had before,” he detailed. “Any time I give someone pepper pot or cassareep, they’re just so shocked. It’s so unique.”
Rajkumar is always excited to share the flavors and culture of Guyana with new people, but with his roots in South Asia, bringing them to Pakistan was that much more profound.
“In India, maybe it’s different, but in Lahore, most people don’t know about Guyana or where it is. That’s another reason why I did this. That’s why I do all the things I do. That’s why I’m wearing this tank top — to raise awareness about my culture and how beautiful it is,” he said.
Time in South Asia has also helped Rajkumar gain a deeper appreciation for the origins of many Indo Caribbean dishes and reinforced his love for them.
“Guyanese cuisine doesn’t just have Indian influence, but so many dishes in some way, shape, or form come from there. Like when I’m eating sada roti, I can tie it back to which type of flatbread it came from in India. I feel like a better-equipped chef at the end of the day. I’m more connected to my Guyanese roots and to the culture overall.”
Rajkumar wants to foster a deeper understanding and relationship between both heritages. He wants his food to build connections, not disparity.
Bringing the world back home
Rajkumar has visited over 20 countries, but Pakistan remains one place he’ll cherish his entire life. He is grateful not only for the opportunities he’s had there, but also for the chance to offer a fresh, alternative view of the country from what is often shown by the media.
“When people saw me posting content from Lahore, they were like, ‘Oh my God, this is Pakistan?’ This is not what we expected. This is not what we thought we’d see.’ They were shocked at how beautiful, kind, and welcoming everyone was.”
Reactions like these are Rajkumar’s ultimate goal.
A cookbook is due next year. He has aspirations of launching merchandise and cookware, traveling to South East Asia, and continuing his pop-ups, but ultimately, he concludes,
“I just want to stand for something. I want to continue to learn, remain humble, represent my Western and Eastern cultures and spread mad love. I want to be an ambassador to that world and be someone who’s dedicated to his craft, bettering himself and those around him.”
“I just want to continue to grow as a person,” he added with sincerity as he touched on his sobriety and what it’s taught him about achieving your goals.
“That might sound cliche, but it’s new to me. I’ve spent the last two years learning about myself and being vulnerable about how I feel, my healing journey and what I’m going through. If I excel and continue to invest time and discipline in that arena, everything else around me will flourish. I believe that goes for anyone.”
Rajkumar is going far literally and figuratively, but no matter where he lands, you can be sure he’ll bring something back for his supporters, whether it be a new view of the world or a concoction like a ceviche pani puri on one of his menus.
“That’s my travels to India, Pakistan and Peru all in one bite!” he exclaimed.
Chef Dev’s journey has not always been an easy one, but it’s a powerful example of the success one can taste with hard work, embracing authenticity and following true passion.