Prairie Oyster - One of the World's Weirdest Drinks
|Photo: The Seattle Times|
Not to be confused with a Rocky Mountain Oyster (a fried bull, pig or sheep testicle), the Prairie Oyster is a classic hangover cure consisting of a seasoned raw egg and nothing else.
James Bond admits to turning to Prairie Oysters in Sir Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, proving that even 007 gets hangovers; John McCabe (Warren Beatty) knocks one back in McCabe & Mrs. Miller; Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli) gulps one down in Cabaret; and in P.G. Wodehouse’s novels, Jeeves, the ever attendant butler, frequently makes them for his boss, Bertie Wooster.
What is Prairie Oyster?
At its most basic, the prairie oyster is composed of a raw egg, a dash each of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, and a quick sprinkle of salt and pepper; and it’s this combination of intriguing ingredients that have made it a favorite (or at least a popularly recommended) morning-after pick-me-up for over a century, one that has made appearances in film, television, and literature for almost equally as long, Eater cites.
History of Prairie Oyster
Rumors about its genesis swirled, but one of the most thorough comes from The "Queen" Cookery Books, a series that was published in 1903 London by S. Beaty-Pownall, the departmental editor of the column "Housewife and Cuisine" for Queen Newspaper, a British society publication. In a section about oyster cocktails, Beaty-Pownall writes:
"To this class belongs the well-known "prairie oyster," said to have been invented by a plainsman of the Wild West for the benefit of a sick comrade, who believed that only an oyster would enable him to shake off the fever that was killing him. This "oyster" is prepared by putting a tablespoon of good vinegar, or Worcester sauce at the bottom of a wineglass, and slipping into this very carefully the broken yolk of a raw egg, dusting this with salt and a little freshly ground pepper. It must be added that this may be varied to taste, some persons adding a drop or two of Tabasco or a little cayenne to the vinegar whilst others, ‘horresco referens!’, sophisticate this temperance "pick-me-up" by using old rye whiskey, instead of vinegar or sauce; but this is not approved by connoisseurs."
How to make Prairie Oyster?
To make Prairie Oyster, according to Thrillist, we need:
1 raw egg
Dash of hot sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly cracked pepper
After having enough ingredients:
Carefully crack the egg into a lowball or old-fashioned glass, leaving the yolk intact.
Add hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
Gulp the whole thing down in one swallow. Feel better, or at the very least, distracted.
Continuing in Culture
Following its mention in Wodehouse’s Jeeves series, the prairie oyster enjoyed a reputation closely associated with the sophisticated (if a little too enthusiastic) drinker, appearing in the hands of everyone from James Bond to Audrey Hepburn.
In 1939, Christopher Isherwood released a semi-autobiographical novel Goodbye to Berlin in which the characters seemingly run on prairie oysters. Over the course of 317 pages, the equally scandalous and glamorous heroine Sally Bowles (later famously played by Liza Minnelli in the film adaptation, Cabaret) has at least five, the first mention appearing on page 28 after she asks one of the characters, Chris—Isherwood’s stand-in—to draw the curtains:
"Would you like a prairie oyster?" She produced glasses, eggs and a bottle of Worcestershire from the boot-cupboard under the dismantled washstand. "I practically live on them." Dexterously she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the sauce and stirred the mixture with the end of a fountain pen. "They’re about all I can afford."
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