Edinburgh diary: In which hangover food is required

Nicky Woolf knows the best spots for a morning-after pick-me-up.

August 12. Day five.

Hungover is the basic state for mornings at the Edinburgh Festival. They are as inevitable as the rain. It's probably possible to catch one without even having drunk anything, so intense is the atmosphere of morning-after pain that sits on the city like a black cloud each morning. But the show must go on, and Edinburgh has a number of places that specialise in hangover-curing curries or coffees to cut through the morning fog. Here are a few of the best.

Mosque Kitchen is a festival staple, a real life-saver. It started out as a tiny curry kitchen round the back of the Edinburgh Central Mosque on Potterow, doling out big steaming dollops of curry (meat, chicken, or vegetable), and rice and dahl on paper plates. It's the hangover nuclear option – and now they've opened a second premises, on Nicholson Square, to cope with their ever-growing demand from the suffering masses. You have not truly been to the Fringe unless you've indulged your hangover craving and binged on Mosque Kitchen curry.

Sometimes, some mornings, one simply has a pie-shaped hole in one's life. The Piemaker, on South Bridge fills that hole.

Walking in to 10 To 10 In Delhi is like entering a different world; a little slice of India in the middle of Edinburgh. The smell of spices fills the air, red and gold drapes adorn inviting seats, and the atmosphere is dreamy, somehow unreal. Their masala chai is all made fresh and to-order, and is a genuinely life-changing experience. After a couple of sips, no day after any kind of night before seems insurmountable.

Oink on Victoria Street, just off the Royal Mile, boasts enormous Scottish hog-roast sandwiches and nothing else, with a choice of either haggis or sage and onion stuffing. The rolls come in three sizes; the Piglet, the Oink, and the Grunter, and the crackling is the best you will ever taste.

It's difficult to spot Spoon. It's a bit of a secret, with its hidden-away entrance, but this airy and first-floor cafe, with it's eclectic décor, healthy sandwiches and home-made soups, is always a great breakfast option.

Last, but absolutely not least, Black Medicine is Edinburgh's most famous coffee shop. Free wi-fi, a large range of generously-filled ciabattas and bagels, custom wooden furniture and a bustling atmosphere all play second fiddle to some seriously amazing coffee. The place is aptly-named; the coffee is genuinely medicinal.

 

A performer at the Udderbelly venue. Chances are, he's hungover. Photograph: Getty Images.

Nicky Woolf is a writer for the Guardian based in the US. He tweets @NickyWoolf.

Getty
Show Hide image

The radio station where the loyal listeners are chickens

Emma Hills, the head chicken trainer at Giffords Circus, knows what gets them clucking.

“The music is for the chickens, because of course on the night the music is very loud, and so it needs to be a part of their environment from the very start.” Emma Hills, the head chicken trainer at Giffords Circus, is standing in the sawdusty ring under a big top in a field outside Stroud as several rare-breed chickens wander freely around boxes and down ramps. They are the comic stars of the summer 2017 show, and Emma is coaxing them to walk insouciantly around the ring while she plays the early-morning show on Radio 1.

It’s the chickens’ favourite station. There seems to be something about its longueurs, combined with the playlist, that gets them going – if that’s the word. They really do respond to the voices and songs. “It’s a bit painful, training,” Emma observes, as she moves a little tray of worms into position as a lure. “It’s a bit like watching paint dry sometimes. It’s all about repetition.”

Beyond the big top, a valley folds into limestone hills covered in wild parsley and the beginnings of elderblossom. Over the radio, Adele Roberts (weekdays, from 4am) hails her listeners countrywide. “Hello to Denzel, the happy trucker going north on the M6. And van driver Niki on the way from Norwich to Coventry, delivering all the things.” Pecking and quivering, the chickens are rather elegant, each with its fluffy, caramel-coloured legs and explosive feather bouffant, like a hat Elizabeth Taylor might have worn on her way to Gstaad in the 1970s.

Despite a spell of ennui during the new Harry Styles single, enthusiasm resumes as Adele bids “hello to Simon from Bournemouth on the M3 – he’s on his way to Stevenage delivering meat”. I don’t imagine Radio 1 could hope for a better review: to these pretty creatures, its spiel is as thrilling as opening night at the circus. Greasepaint, swags of velvet, acrobats limbering up with their proud, ironic grace. Gasps from beholders rippling wonder across the stalls.

Emma muses that her pupils learn fast. Like camels, a chicken never forgets.

“I’ve actually given up eating them,” she admits. “Last year I had only two weeks to train and it was like, ‘If they pull this off I won’t eat chicken ever again.’ And they did. So I didn’t.” 

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 25 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Why Islamic State targets Britain

0800 7318496