Well, let’s put it this way. Would you rather have a hangover or a bowl of alligator meat and / or other meat with vegetables, noodles, egg and possibly the piquant touch of pigs’ feet? As a vegetarian, I’d much rather cope with the headache, thank you.
But YakaMein, which originated in China – the ‘mein’ gives the game away, I guess – is served in New Orleans as a definite cure for the good night out that you’re now regretting. And let’s face it, in New Orleans they really know how to party so it makes sense that today YakaMein, or ‘Old Sober’ as it’s often known there, is served in Creole restaurants.
As the name strongly suggests that this is a dish with Chinese origins how come New Orleans is it’s home. (Apart, that is, from the definite truth that New Orleans is a brilliant place in which to get absolutely pie-eyed).
There are two conflicting stories.
One says that servicemen who had been in the Korean War returned home with a taste for the food there. That’s not my favourite though so I’m going to discount it as I prefer the second one.
These days, there is no Chinatown in New Orleans but in times gone by it was flourishing. Chinese immigrants came to the United States in large numbers in the 1860s and 70s. They were brought to the New Orleans area by planters who needed cheap labour to replace their slaves now that slavery was abolished.
Consequently, Chinatowns sprang up in most large centres and New Orleans was no exception. It grew to be one of the largest in the country. I think I prefer the idea that this Chinese-inspired dish has its roots in a mysterious Chinatown rather than simply being a favourite of troops in Korea.
But, should you be in New Orleans with a hangover, will Old Sober do the trick? Well, I’m a hair-of-the-dog-plus-a-curry person myself but apparently experts say that it does contain ingredients that will make you feel better.
Although I have to say that although I’ve never tried it and indeed the ingredients are a mystery, I’ve always likled the sound of the ‘restorative’ created by Bertie Wooster’s gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves. As Jeeves says:
“It is the Worcester sauce that gives it its colour. The raw egg makes it nutritious. The red pepper gives it its bite. Gentlemen have told me they have found it extremely invigorating after a late evening.”
I love that ‘after a late evenin’g. Bertie Wooster describes the effects:
“I would have clutched at anything that looked like a lifeline that morning. I swallowed the stuff. For a moment I felt as if somebody had touched off a bomb inside the old bean and was strolling down my throat with a lighted torch, and then everything seemed suddenly to get all right. The sun shone in through the window; birds twittered in the tree-tops; and, generally speaking, hope dawned once more.”
If you try out Old Sober in New Orleans and it has a similar effect, do let me know.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.