Milton Crawford, author of The Hungover Cookbook, once stated that a hangover is like being crucified – it offers mortals the chance of resurrection on a daily basis. A self-confessed professional boozer, his first book under this mysterious pseudonym was published last year as an offering to all those who drink and struggle to make it out of bed the next day. He remains adamant that “throwing an English breakfast at it” will not do.
Based on P.G. Wodehouse’s six categories of hangovers, Milton guides your alcohol-sodden brain through the abyss to a new, shiny level of existence by directing you towards one of his tailored hangover recipes. Whilst some of the combinations do seem rather unlikely – from the slightly odd Potato Hash with Avocado and Bacon to the more exotic Japanese breakfast recipe or Indian Sweet Lassi – it's surprising how well they work together. With difficulty and time ratings, you can gauge whether your hangover is bearable enough to see you through preparing a 3-star rated recipe, without passing out.
Owl Eyes got the chance to ask Milton a few questions about The Hungover Cookbook, as well as life as a writer, drinking whisky and nights spent in Berlin police cells…
Firstly, you are clearly a well-experienced drinker. Where did you initially get your taste for alcohol?
From my hard-drinking parents!
As a student, did you exploit those long aimless hours with trips to the pub or trips to the library?
I was a keen drinker as a student but I balanced leisure with study fairly successfully (I got a first). Even so, there was plenty of time for the type of all-day sessions that are far more infrequent these days.
What inspired you to write The Hungover Cookbook in the first place?
I found that I had many of my most creative ideas when I had a hangover. It was like my brain had been given a jolt by the booze – or perhaps it's simply tiredness. I liked to experiment with strange food combinations when I had a hangover. It made me more whimsical. I thought it would be good to celebrate the hangover – embrace the pain – rather than to constantly moan about it. That is what my book is – a hymn to hangovers.
Three things you have learnt to enhance your drinking experience?
1. Eating is not cheating. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're a moron.
2. The most essential part of enjoyable drinking is having a great companion(s) to drink with.
3. There are plenty of brilliant drinks out there – don't get stuck on your 'usual'.
Your favourite alcoholic beverage?
I'm a lover of many different drinks. Time and place are important. A cold beer while watching the sun set over the Mekong River in Vietnam is pretty unbeatable, but I wouldn't drink lager in winter in this country. Likewise, you cannot beat a single malt or quality blended whisky in front of a fire after a long day's winter hill-walking in the Lake District or the Highlands. My favourite drink, however, is probably a really good red wine – like an excellent rioja, Rhone Valley red, Primitivo from Puglia or Beaton Track Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
Most infamous tale after a night on the town?
There are a few of these. I once drank thirteen tequilas with the Liverpudlian poet, Adrian Henri, in a bar on Hope Street in Liverpool and recited my own poetry to him. I had to be carried out of the bar, as my legs no longer worked. I also once got so lost in Berlin after a night of drinking, that I asked the police whether I could stay in a cell for the night; I had forgotten the name of my hotel, so they agreed. In the morning, I remembered the hotel name and the police gave me a lift there.
Do you believe in drinking games or do you feel consuming alcohol is a pleasure of its own?
I aspire to greater sophistication in my drinking these days. It's arguable whether I succeed.
After cooking one of your recipes from The Hungover Cookbook, how would you spend your day recovering?
A swim in the sea. A long walk through the forest. Spending time with friends talking nonsense. A hot curry in the evening and a fine film.
There's a strong connection between alcohol and writers. Do you believe a few tipples makes a literary hero?
No, alcohol doesn't make a good writer. There have just been many good writers who also happened to be alcoholics, such as Hemmingway, Raymond Chandler, James Joyce, John Steinbeck. But then there are many politicians, business people, painters and even footballers, who have also been alcoholics. Plenty of brilliant writers barely touch the stuff, so don't think that booze will make you a better writer – it won't.
Tequila or Vodka?
Facebook or Twitter?
Your ultimate choice of hangover meal?
My very own English Breakfast tortilla – all the ingredients of an English breakfast in a single omelette, served with pickled chillis and toast.
How do you take your tea?
Strong, milky, no sugar; unless I'm drinking Indian Chai.
What are your plans for your next book?
Keep an eye out for Milton's Great British Sporting Adventure.