Wednesday, January 19, 2005

P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves Special

This past Sunday I bought Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum. A comprehensive biography of The Master, it reminded me of my high school days when I read a Jeeves novel and imagined myself in the Jazz Age.

In my college years, when I got to know beer (and Wild Turkey) for the first time, I picked up Wodehouses The Inimitable Jeeves. his first collection of short stories featuring Bertie Wooster and his incomparable valet. A passage from the story "Jeeves Takes Charge" is worthy of note because my first experiences with beer and whiskey also coincided with my first experience of hangovers:

"If you would drink this, sir," he said, with a kind of bedside manner, rather like the royal doctor shooting the bracer into the sick prince. "It is a little preparation of my own invention. 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 find it extremely invigorating after a late evening."

I would have clutched at anything that looked like a life-line 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.

I actually tried this one out. Bartenders will say that the passage here describes a "Prairie Oyster," the common name for any hangover remedy using a raw egg yolk. It works on the principle that pain in the throat will overcome pain in the head.

Nowadays, of course, I know better. Hangovers can be avoided by drinking lots of water at the same time that you down your alcohol, since dehydration plays a major role. But once in a while, when I'm in a hurry to get out of the house, I make my own version of the Jeeves special as a pick-me-up. I change one detail in that I dilute the one egg with V-8 vegetable cocktail; my preference is to use the new low-sodium formula since that one has more vitamin C than the regular type. (And while I realize the risk of salmonella poisoning, I haven't really suffered all that much from consuming an egg raw--at least compared with the headache and raw stomach of a really powerful hangover.)

The Modified Jeeves Special

V-8 low-sodium cocktail
Worcestershire sauce
Tobasco sauce
1 egg

1. Break the egg into an old-fashioned glass.
2. Fill to desired level with V-8 vegetable cocktail.
3. Add Worcestershire sauce until you achieve a dark color on the surface, then add a few drops of Tobasco sauce.
4. Stir until a uniform dark color is achieved.
5. If suffering from a hangover, drink rapidly.
6. If reading a Wodehouse passage, wait until your eyes have finished bouncing off the walls before collecting them and putting them back.


At 1:17 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the recipe! Plum & Co. are holding my hand as I slog through grad school. Any sort of pick-me-up is welcomed!

At 8:03 p.m., Blogger Matthew said...

In one of the Wodehouse books I found the actual recipe, and it is

Add one egg to half a wineglass full of Worcestershire sauce, sprinkle liberally with red pepper, add four aspirin, and stir.

Works wonders after staying up all night studying.

At 5:33 p.m., Blogger barbs said...

Four aspirin and all that Worcester sauce - what are you studying for? Burst ulcers?

At 1:13 p.m., Blogger Silver Fox said...

It is a raw egg broken gently into a glass, a few shakes of Tabasco sauce, likewise Worcestershire, salt pepper, that's it. Drink it in one gulp, it will put hairs on your chests.


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