The Garlic Hangover

After a Saturday night of delicious Mongolian hot pot (涮羊肉) particularly heavy on the garlic, I had that familiar feeling when I woke up in the morning: my whole mouth reeked of garlic, and even my tongue itself felt and tasted like a marinated chunk of garlicky meat. This stubborn garlic imprint took over 24 hours to fade. (And yes, I brushed my teeth. Multiple times. That gave me minty garlic breath.)

The thought came to me: this is a garlic hangover. But I was not the first one to come up with this term… it’s already in Urban Dictionary.

How common are these garlic hangovers for my garlic-loving friends in other countries? I don’t know, but in China it’s especially common when you eat hot pot (火锅) or the variation of hot pot known as Mongolian hot pot (涮羊肉). It’s because you “mix your own sauce,” and you’re given free reign to liberally dump the minced garlic (蒜泥) into your sauce bowl. And liberally dump I do!

Here’s what the minced garlic looks like (but usually there’s more of it):

minced garlic

Then when you mix your sauce, it might look something like this (although mine is typically more of a brown/red spicy color):

garlicky sauce

So then you’re dousing meat and veggies in that sauce all meal. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll need to whip up another bowl of sauce halfway through the meal.

Finally, for those unclear, I’ll share a picture of Mongolian hot pot (the bundt cake of hot pots):

mongolian hot -pot

(Note the sauces hiding “innocently” in the back. Don’t be fooled!)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

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