Are you in training for Thanksgiving yet? Downing a half-loaf of bread a morning, or two roast chickens for dinner? Because starving yourself in preparation for gluttony is not the way to go. You have to stretch the stomach beforehand -- and stock plenty of antacids for after. Following the "Ask for forgiveness, not permission" approach to Thanksgiving dining, here are our top 5 natural-ish indigestion remedies. Use them to quell your post-stuffing rumbling long enough to watch the game.
Let's start with the classic, shall we? The box you reach for when it's too late to run to the store for Tums and you don't have anything better in the house. Stir 1 tablespoon into a short glass of water and chug. Cough. Reach for a spoonful of pumpkin pie to cover up that metallic aftertaste. Consider this the first step in paying for your sins.
If anyone would have a recovery strategy for a feast of meat and potatoes, it'd be the Germans. Jägermeister, of course, is the most famous German digestif, or post-dinner drink. But since a generation of us associate the word "Jäger" with the word "bomb," bringing out a bottle after a meal may lead to nostalgic body shots and purging. The German digestif to share with your adult friends is Underberg, which comes in one-shot bottles. Peel off the paper, crack the lid, and pour it down your throat -- it's heavy on the licorice and baking spices and bitter as hell, but it works. (The bottle pictured cost less than $2 at DeLaurenti, FYI.)
3. Ting Ting Jahe Ginger Candy
Ginger is a remarkable rhizome, practically an all-purpose tonic. It's good for colds. It's good for morning sickness. It's good for reducing fatigue. Well, it's definitely good for digestion as well, and this chewy Indonesian candy, available at many Asian stores (this packet cost $2 at Uwajimaya), delivers a burning, sugary hit of spice. It's arguably the best-tasting gut remedy out there. Those of us whose nephew and niece beg for thrill spins on the half-hour are packing a few candies in our pockets to test ginger's ability to cure motion sickness, too.
2. Diet Coke
There are absolutely no research studies evaluating this soft drink's ability to aid in digestion. Few doctors would even recommend it. But anecdotal evidence is strong. We discovered many years ago during a roast-duck splurge that nothing cuts through the pain of a pound of meat like a can of Diet Coke.
The Germans aren't the only ones who believe a shot of herbal liqueur is the perfect way to recover from a big meal. Fernet is an inky, sweet amaro (bitters) from Italy. Fernet Branca, the best known brand, has mysteriously become a popular bar drink, sometimes mixed with Coke, sometimes ordered with a gingerale back. Some Seattle bartenders add a few drops to cocktails to give them a minty, bitter edge -- the culinary equivalent of a nipple tweak. The Weekly food crew actually prefers Fernet Magnoberta, which is cheaper, less sugary, less alcoholic, more mentholated, and more wince-inducingly bitter than Fernet Branca. (Remo Borracchini's usually stocks it). The Magnoberta Fernet is also magic in a shot. Fifteen minutes after your dose, you may be back at the buffet, practicing for Christmas.