A prairie oyster is a drink consisting of a raw egg, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. It's a folk remedy to relieve a hangover, which typically involves the morning side effects of consuming too much alcohol the night before. A prairie oyster looks like an oyster because the egg yolk is supposed to be left whole. The Worcestershire sauce, usually made from fermented anchovies, vinegar and spices, and hot sauce, which is typically a mixture of the juice of hot peppers, vinegar and spices, are then added to the egg in a drinking glass. The prairie oyster is swallowed in one gulp.
Eggs are rich in B vitamins that are depleted by the chemical reaction caused when the body metabolizes alcohol. They are also a source of protein and fat, which may soothe an upset stomach or feelings of queasiness. The salt in the Worcestershire sauce can replenish lost minerals due to the dehydrating effects of over drinking, and the hot sauce can cause sweating, a way for the body to release toxins through the skin. A variation on a prairie oyster recipe involves adding tomato juice, which is high in vitamin C, also lost by the chemical reactions to alcohol in the body.
There are two schools of thought about whether it is best to have a prairie oyster before or after drinking. Some feel the amount of vitamins and protein consumed in a prairie oyster before a night out may help to metabolize alcohol more efficiently and cause less suffering the next day. This may also, however, lead to increased consumption of alcohol because one feels he will be protected from its effects. Others advocate preparing a prairie oyster first thing upon wakening, so as to lessen the hangover throughout the day. There is, however, no medically proven cure for a hangover, other than time for the body to process alcohol out of its system.
Some people may add vodka or brandy to a prairie oyster. The thought process behind this is that a hangover is really the body going through alcohol withdrawal—reintroducing a small amount of alcohol back in the system will relieve the unpleasant effects. This is commonly called "hair of the dog" from the English expression, "Bite the dog that bites you." It is, however, widely discredited by many medical experts who say the continued practice can lead to alcohol dependence and abuse.