Feeling queasy after yesterday's meal of questionable kebabs? Well, you know what they say: A shot of vodka a day keeps the doctor away.
"They" would be Dylan Ho, one half of L.A.-based food photographer duo DYLAN + JENI. When he's not behind the camera, Ho's tearing his way through tacos, sour Thai sausages and other delicacies peddled by local street vendors, which has led to some not-so-delicious results.
"I love to eat street food wherever I travel, and it's important to know that each country prepares food differently than what we're used to in the States, and that doesn't always sit well with our stomachs," Ho says.
Case in point: the Fiorentina steak during a trip to Tuscany with his wife and partner in crime, Jeni Afuso. The mostly raw T-bone—"it was pretty much still beating," Ho says—left his stomach tied in knots and made it hard for him to walk. A quick check-in with a nearby pharmacist aided by Google Translate led to a prescription of charcoal pills, which did just the trick.
Now Ho is always prepared when he travels. Here are his essentials for preventing and treating food poisoning:
① Charcoal pills: Never heard of them? Also called activated charcoal, they're on the World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines. You'll normally find this type of charcoal sitting in fancy water purifiers. The pills are known to absorb toxins, like, oh, the kind you might find in that purply slab of meat. And on top of curing you of food-borne illness, the pills are easy to stash in your carry-on.
② Angostura bitters: A few dashes of this botanical liquid doesn't just make your Manhattan all the better, it can soothe your stomach and relieve headaches, too. Initially consumed in Trinidad by Simón Bolívar's soldiers with upset stomachs, a few drops mixed with club soda is all you need these days. TT tip: If you don't have any on the road, Ho suggests walking into any cocktail bar, asking for some and leaving a little tip.
③ Vodka: This recommendation might seem backward, but it's what got Ho through meals of fermented horse milk and cured mutton in Mongolia. His host family instructed him to knock back a shot before meals, because vodka supposedly kills bacteria. "We can say that the days we drank vodka, we felt fine," Ho remembers. "But the days we didn't drink vodka . . . we weren't feeling well." No further explanation needed here; we're on board. Martinis, anyone?
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