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The Miracle Cure

September 24, 2010

Wednesday night I came home and felt sick.  It wasn’t a virus.  It wasn’t allergies.  It was something that I ate.  Scratch that.  It wasn’t something that I ate, it was the entirety of what I ate.

Sometimes I just get carried away.  I’ve talked about that before, and I’m not here to tell you all about my gluttonous exploits.  After a while that gets old.  But I do realize that I am not alone in occasionally eating well beyond satiety.  There are others who indulge in too much rich delicious food, and who may be looking for anything to make them feel better.  Sure, I suppose there are a laundry list of over-the-counter medicines one could take.  But that’s not really becoming for a bon vivant.

Medicine implies that you’ve done something wrong.  That your body is broken and it needs to be fixed.  Medicalizing the condition is an admission of failure.

Luckily there is something much better to soothe your ails, and it has a much better cachet than Tums or Rolaids.  Frankly, it’s amazing that I haven’t spoken more about it in the past.  Naturally, I’m referring to the digestif.

Technically, it’s an after dinner drink that is intended to help aid the digestion.

It’s understandable to think this is just a Mad-Men-era excuse to have just one more drink before calling it a night.  After all, the digestif isn’t terribly en vogue.  Somewhere, after-dinner drinks in this country took a very bad turn and morphed into boozy internationally flavored coffees many years ago.  Honestly I don’t think they ever fully recovered.

But digestifs serve a purpose.  For those who have taken shelter in their curative powers, it’s undeniable.

In my experience the most effective digestifs are anise-based spirits.  Yes, that means they taste like black licorice, which is a deal breaker for many.  But even if this isn’t your thing, I would still recommend you keep a small bottle on hand.  After all, it’s unlikely you choose your cough medicine based on its flavor profile.

I’m not above asking you to consider this like medicine.

At least you get to pick your poison.  There are ouzo, sambuca and absinthe.  Anise gives the perception of sweetness, even though there isn’t any sugar in ouzo or absinthe. Sambuca on the other hand is actually sweetened and is a stickier spirit, which might make the Italian liquour the best choice for those just getting their feet wet with digestifs.  I have always enjoyed the tradition of putting three coffee beans in a glass of sambuca, primarily because I think their bitterness offers a lovely counterpoint to the spirit.

My old friend SJ swears by ouzo, which I turned her on to many years ago.  But my new love is absinthe.  And that is what I turned to when I came home feeling ill from too much greasy hot sausage pizza.

I was more than ill.  I was miserable.

But in all honesty, even after the very first sip of my well-louched absinthe, I could tell I was already on the road to recovery.  These anise spirits are amazing and potent stuff.  If you enjoy it, more the better.  But even if you don’t, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 24, 2010 7:43 pm

    I got very sick stomach-wise on our honeymoon, traveling through the Loire. The driver who took us to the hotel told us that the French remedy was Pastis. I’ve used it to that end ever since. Works wonders.

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