As a child, trips to Trinidad were frequent enough that it didn’t feel like a big journey. It was just part of regular life. At least once a year, my mom packed up my sister and I to stay at her childhood home in Princes Town. While being at the house could get boring, I learned to love many things about the country: the gentle turquoise waves of the sea, the lively food vendors at the beach, the strong fragrance of vegetation and overripe fruit, the doubles (IYKYK).

When I was 14, Mom decided it was high time her children experienced Carnival. I was unprepared for that side of the culture, not knowing just how hard Trinis could hang. For nearly two weeks we went to every fete in town, and at all of them I would be given beer, as if it was totally normal. At home, my mom would have reprimanded my cousins for trying to get me drunk (the legal drinking age is 19), but here she didn’t bat an eyelash.

Inevitably, one night I drank too much—probably only two bottles, but I was 14!—and spent the next day in misery: head pounding, fighting to hold down anything I ate. On one particularly windy road, I begged my sister to ask my cousin to stop the car so I could vomit. The adults, at least, found this hilarious.

That night, we headed to another fete. They assured me this was a comedy show and no one would try and get me drunk. At the door I was given a large Styrofoam cup of something: “It’s corn soup,” my cousin said. I looked down into the cup dubiously. As a teenager, my palate was decent—there wasn’t a flavor profile I didn’t like. But there were things I didn’t like, and all I could identify in the dark of the tent was pieces of corn (like) and some kind of animal parts (probable dislike). My cousin told me to just eat it, promising that it would ease my symptoms.

Soup still in hand, I concentrated on deciphering the Trini accents of the comedians. I could understand my family, who would slow down for their foreign cousin, but Trinis talk fast and Trini comedians talk even faster. Eventually, I gave up trying to identify every ingredient in the soup, and just ate. It was only once the last drop was gone that I realized how delicious it was—smoky, and savory, with a satisfying thickness.

Does this soup actually prevent or cure a hangover? Maybe. It has a decent amount of protein, which is said to help. It is full of carbs, which increase blood sugar, and that is said to help too. And of course it’s filled with liquid, and we all know hydration is key. Or maybe it’s just filling and tasty, and that in itself makes us feel better.

In Brooklyn, it’s easy for me to find the traditional salted pork tails, or ears, or any other piece of a pig, but they require a lot of boiling beforehand, so I prefer bacon as an accessible, easy-to-work-with alternative. But the meat isn’t a dealbreaker. Trinidad has a strong vegetarian and vegan culture, and this soup is just as often made without any animal products as with it, simply omitting the meat, rather than trying to make up for it. Both ways are delicious.

Though it may have a lot of ingredients and several steps, it’s not fussy, and it’s great to make for a crowd or to tuck away in the freezer. If you don’t have squash, sub a sweet potato or even leave it out. No green pepper? No problem. If you accidentally added the tomatoes with the onions, everything will be fine. Plus, it doesn’t care if you forget it on the stove for too long.

The only thing this dish requires is lots of flavor, and my recipe has you covered there. Layering green seasoning—a seasoning base similar to sofrito, found widely around English-speaking islands—with freshly chopped aromatics creates a solid foundation of flavors. Many people blend their soup before adding the cut corncobs, but I have always been a chunky soup girl, so I prefer a little texture.

After a long time trying to recreate that soup from the tent, I landed here. I can’t guarantee it will fix a hangover of your own, but it’s my personal cure-all. I left that show feeling 100% better, albeit upset that I couldn’t catch one single punch line from any of the jokes.

Trinidad Corn SoupWith summer corn and plenty of hot sauce, this robust soup is beloved as a hangover cure.View Recipe

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