A search on Amazon.com for "Chicken Soup for the Hungover Soul" quickly reveals that there is no such title in existence (I smell an e-book opportunity!), most likely because no one wakes up with a pounding headache and the taste of bad choices lingering in their mouth and reaches to the bedside table for a book of lame-ass inspirational stories.
No, my first instinct upon opening my bloodshot eyes after a night of too many tequila shots is usually to chug whatever non-alcoholic liquids I can find in my reach and then go out in search of sustenance that won't cause my stomach to recoil in horror. My hangovers are fewer and further between these days, but this being the midst of cold and flu season, I have awoken on more than one occasion recently feeling like stepped-on shit due to whatever bug I've picked up from my friends or family.
Whatever the source of the ailment may be, I generally find chicken soup to be the best fix and often the only thing I can stomach. Consuming a huge bowl of steaming soup is guaranteed to raise one's core temp by a few degrees and help you sweat out whatever undesirables you're holding onto (be they self-inflicted or otherwise).
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SHOW ME HOW
My old standby is the pho ga at Vietnam (4302 Bryan). In usually less than five minutes you can get a huge, steaming bowl delivered to your table, filled with a clear, aromatic broth, tangles of thin rice noodles and slices of poached chicken breast. It comes adorned with scallions and thinly sliced onion, and I highly advise you give it a squeeze of lime and a generous shot of sriracha. The resulting spicy elixir does wonders to clear the head, while the starchy rice noodles help comfort the stomach. Fix your zombielike gaze on the televisions overhead tuned to CNN and by the time you get halfway through your bowl, you'll likely feel significantly more human.
An excellent Latin version can be found at Gloria's. Slide into a booth in the back corner -- or post up at the bar for a margarita, if you're going down that road -- and order up a bowl. A flavorful, slightly spicy broth holds generous shreds of chicken and chunks of vegetables and rice, while a smattering of creamy avocado chunks float on top. Get a cheese pupusa on the side and this is comfort food at its finest. If you can't bear the thought of putting on pants that aren't flannel with a drawstring, takeout is probably the way to go here.
A slightly more exotic option is the tom kha gai at Thai food mecca Bangkok City (4301 Bryan, right across from Vietnam). The creamy-colored opaque broth is infused with the richness of coconut milk, and the flavors of galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and red chiles hit every part of your palate: sweet, spicy and slightly sour. The chunks of chicken breast floating in the soup along with cilantro and tiny straw mushrooms seem to be more of an afterthought and can verge on dryness, but that never stops me from ordering it; it's all about the intensely flavored liquid. Add some plain steamed rice to bulk it up if you like, and order it extra spicy for maximum therapeutic effect. If you live in the 'hood as I do, call in a delivery order and try not to terrify the nice driver who brings it to your front door with your deathly pallor and raspy voice.
Now get back to your couch and that Law & Order: SVU marathon (or whatever trashy programming you indulge in on your sick days), and get well soon. There's drinking to do.