STILL suffering from that Hogmanay hangover? If all the traditional cures have failed, why not go the New Age route and try taking evening primrose oil? Widely prescribed for pre-menstrual tension, a product called Efamol claims, quoting the evidence of clinical trials: 'Evening primrose oil has proved to be very useful in treating certain aspects of alcoholism, particularly withdrawal symptoms, liver damage and hangovers.'

So far as the Gastropod is able to ascertain, evening primrose oil is rich in gammalinoleic acid, which the body converts into prostaglandin E-1, a natural mood elevator that alleviates the pain of alcohol withdrawal. It is claimed that a long-term course of Efamol can help to correct liver damage and rebuild the battered brains of recovering alcoholics.

When doctors researching Efamol's effectiveness as an aid to weaning dipsomaniacs off the hard stuff experimented on themselves, they discovered that four to six capsules, taken immediately after a drinking session and before crashing out, kick-starts one's liver and greatly reduces the symptoms of a hangover.

Amanda Ursell, a nutrition adviser, claims that 'a lot of people treat evening primrose oil generically, which drives us potty since Efamol is the only brand to have clinically researched their product in medical trials and have a good quality control system in place'. Efamol 500gm capsules are available in packets of 30 for pounds 3.99 and 90 for pounds 10.15 from branches of Boots.

ALTERNATIVELY, you could try throwing a Love Bomb down your neck. Phials of this absolutely fabulous 'jungle juice' were sent out with invitations to a Christmas party thrown by Lynne Franks, the fashion-based PR agency which last year diversified into the realm of food and drink with clients including Harvey Nichols and Absolut vodka.

The Love Bomb is a nasty-tasting potion containing all the usual ultra-healthy ingredients such as ginseng and royal jelly, but which also includes a gram each of a couple of accredited Amazonian aphrodisiacs, catuaba and marapuana.

Sadly, the Gastropod missed Ms Franks's party, but was glad to find an unexploded Love Bomb in his pocket on New Year's Day and discovered it to be most efficacious as a restorative. The Love Bomb is available by mail order at pounds 2 per phial (add pounds 1 p & p on orders worth less than pounds 10) from 269 Portobello Road, London W11 1LR.

THOSE who are newly resolved to lose weight this year may find that a newly-published book will change their lives. The Mediterranean Health Diet (Headline, pounds 4.99), subtitled 'The delicious way to lose weight and live longer', takes its cue from the fashionable preoccupation with food of a vaguely Mediterranean provenance, and sets out to explain why extra virgin olive oil is better for one's body than lard.

Its authors, Gilly Smith and Rowena Goldman, worked together on Channel 4's Food File series and were amazed by the response to the programmes they made about the diet. The aim of the book is to reduce the population's cholesterol level, lower blood pressure, cut the risk of heart disease and shed excess weight. 'The message,' they say, 'is simple: buy fresh foods, learn to cook again and eat your way to a healthier Britain.'

Apart from the polemic, however, more than half the book is devoted to recipes, many of them contributed by some of the brightest chefs working in Britain, including Maddelena Bonino of Bertorelli's in Covent Garden, Jean Christophe Novelli of Provence in Lymington and, most modishly, Stephen Terry from Harvey's Canteen at Chelsea Harbour.

Their contributions are eclipsed by Philip Owen, of the comparatively obscure Arts Theatre Cafe near Leicester Square in London, who has donated a score of recipes that define the style, from Tuscan bean soup to strawberries with balsamic vinegar.

PARENTS of children aged seven to 14, who nurture ambitions for their offspring to become great cooks, could do worse than enrol the little darlings on a course at Le Cordon Bleu school in London. It will teach them the rudiments of cuisine in a series of Saturday workshops costing pounds 105 for five sessions and pounds 210 for 10.

Working in groups of eight under the eye of Le Cordon Bleu's chef des chefs, Michel Perraud, the students will learn to make quiche lorraine in the first session next Saturday, and progress to navarin d'agneau aux petits legumes.

A similar course at the Paris school is so popular that it has a two-year waiting list, but there are several vacancies on the London course, which can be booked by telephoning the school (071-935 3503).

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