The Brazilian Hangover Cure

Imagine a 100% reliable hangover cure that was only available until 1pm (and you’d have to venture right out into the world to get it – it can’t be kept in your bedside drawer). That would lead to some tricky mental balancing acts on Sunday morning wouldn’t it? 

“My head is in a world of pain and I would love to fix it up, BUT that would require me to get out of bed, get dressed and make my way to the market…” – tricky right?

When I am up early enough to catch the Sunday market in Gloria (it starts closing down around midday), the busiest stall by far is the one that sells Pastel (a light, crispy deep-fried pastry filled with cheese, meat, or various other fillings) and Caldo de Cana (sugarcane juice). 


Those golden pastry pockets have various fillings. Most popular are cheese (pastel de queijo) and minced meat (pastel de carne). This is the first part of the cure.

Pasteis (the plural of Pastel) are one of the great Brazilian lanches (snacks), ranking up alongside Pão de queijo and Coxinha. You can buy the pastry ready-made and conveniently cut to shape in every supermarket here and I find that serving a few pasteis makes me very popular when we have guests. If you’re interested in making them for yourself and don’t live in Brazil then you should check out the excellent Flavors of Brazil blog which has a recipe for the pastry.

So, you’ve got your pastel – crispy, a little greasy with oozing melty cheese inside (the cheese ones are my favourite). This all sounds good for combating hangover symptoms. But on its own this will not be enough. You need a drink. A fresh, sweet drink. 

Step 1: Get a truck full of sugar cane
Step 2: Pass sugar cane through industrial sugarcane mangle machine. Catch juice in jug.
Step 3: Take mangled sugarcane stems, twist them together, then pass them through a second time.
Step 4: Discard sugarcane pulp

Follow these steps and you will get this, a golden-green cup of magic:

Golden-Green Elixir – this will fix you up
Ice cold cups of caldo de cana are pretty much mandatory alongside your pastel. A sip of this sweet juice, followed by a bite of cheesy pastry, followed by more juice and before long you’ll be making plans for a trip to the beach, perhaps a few beers and later on maybe a churrasco!
6 replies
  1. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    Sounds good but how about Chagas Disease? I want both sugarcane and machinery sterilized before having a gulp of Caldo de Cana. As for pastel I decided to give up on them along with Kibe due to Cholesterol. Yep, gotta cut done on the grease which is a shame since I remember this one place in Rio where all is, or at least was, yummy. The beer splendid as well.

    I google imaged the place and it seems they have proper tables now. I amnot against progress but I hope they still cook home made style. If you go or have been recently please share yout thoughts.

  2. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Hmmm, I think Chagas disease is mostly picked up in rural areas from insect bites no? Anyway, I've been eating and drinking everything that looks/tastes good since I've been in Latin America and so far I've not had any problems (of course I may be *full* of parasites, but so far we're all getting along fine!).

    RE Bracarense – it always seems to be totally packed when I'm in the area. My mother-in-law has also recommended it several times so I will renew my efforts to give it a try and let you know! 🙂

  3. Ray and Gil
    Ray and Gil says:


    Another popular recipe to avoid hangovers in Brazil is to take on "Engov" before start drinking and another "Engov" after you drink, it always works. 😉
    You can find "Engov" anywhere, padarias e pharmacies all over Brazil.


  4. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Hia Ray, thanks for this information. I just asked my wife "what's Engov?" and she said (all nonchalant like) "Oh yeah, we take that to stop hangovers". My look changed from quizzical to accusatory – I have no idea why she hasn't mentioned this to me before!! 😉 I look forward to trying this – combined with Caldo de Cana my hangover days are over!

  5. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:


    A friend died from Chagas Disease a few years ago. She lived in Rio and supposedly contracted it there. I would definitely take note of the surroundings when consuming Caldo de Cana since when transmission occurs via said beverage the insect ends up being grinded by the machine while it processes the sugarcane. Açai can also transmit the disease since it has been revealed that freezing the pulp does not kill the active agent. Lucky for Brazilian consumers that most of the companies that sell the frozen pulp pasteurize it before as this is required by most nations which they export the product to BUT NOT by Brazilian legislation which determines the guidelines required for internal distribution.
    A bit more about this below.,acai-mal-lavado-mesmo-congelado-pode-transmitir-doenca-de-chagas,550481,0.htm


  6. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Hey Gritty, sorry to hear about your friend, that's really sad. And thanks for the information – far better to take an informed risk (or not) than to just stumble in, ignorant of the facts. I guess I've always gone with a strategy of safety in numbers and stick with the locals – if there are a lot of locals getting stuck in and the food looks fresh and appetising then I usually get involved. I guess one of these days I could be unlucky, I just hate the thought of restricting my experiences because there's a slight risk that something bad could happen. But like I say, thanks for the info – I will definitely be a little more watchful before indulging in sugarcane/acai in future.


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