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November 17, 2009

Sliced egg on raw oysters




I got this e-mail from Sean yesterday (I don't think our Sean), but I had never heard of the following before:

I have some co-workers who have eaten at Faidley’s at Lexington Market and they wish to know why sliced hard-boiled eggs are placed on top of raw oysters. Is it a Faidley’s thing or a Baltimore thing?  An explanation would be great.

So I asked both my Old Baltimore food gurus what was up. ...

Jacques Kelly wrote me back:

I have not witnessed this at Faidley’s raw bar.

And Fred Rasmussen said:

I never heard of this, Elizabeth. Sounds dreadful.

Then I Binged it. No hits on "raw oysters hard-boiled egg slices."

Finally I called Faidley's. The person I spoke to didn't know where the custom came from, but said Faidley's has been doing it a long time.

So, anyone out there know anything more about this?

(The photo caption says simply "raw oysters at Lexington Market." Much as I love raw oysters, it's a little graphic for me at this hour. And no egg. Nanine Hartzenbusch/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:36 AM | | Comments (26)


I'm a big fan of raw oysters and never heard of that one before. And, btw, although I'm a big fan, that pic is kinda gross looking.

I don't want to contaminate my oysters with anything as gack-y as hard boiled eggs...

Have slurped many a raw oyster at Faidley's and have never seen that.

Raw oysters only need a hit of lemon more no less...

Um...the photo creeped me out.

Are you sure that's not from a diagnostic medical text? I shucked an entire peck of oysters and didn't see anything like that..

But for the lemon wedge, that oyster photo resembles a profile of a pig's head, complete with snout and ear.

I've never had them with egg myself (and wouldn't like them that way), but I had a former boss reminicing about when the wagon vendors came into the neighborhoods back in the 60's/70's selling seafood including shucking fresh oysters which they topped with a slice of hard boiled egg. I thought it must be a Baltimore City thing.

I'll eat fried oysters all day but trying to eat a raw one would make me barf...even thinking about it I start to gag.

Hmmm ...Let me take a stab at this one. One of the real struggles for me growing up was learning to eat hard boiled eggs -- a texture thing, mostly, and I still don't care for them. So if you've mastered that step, would masking a slurpy oyster with one be a step along the way to eating raw oysters by themselves?? Oysters and egg -- Baltimore's gateway appetizer!

I love hard boiled eggs and I love oysters (arshters?), but durned if I'd eat em together! My favorite oyster topping is a dab of cocktail sauce. I don't know if anyone besides folks in my church group have tried this, but I can recommend two unconventional methods for fans of cooked oysters. Scald: drop oysters in boiling water until they just open, dip in a little cider (or rice or wine) vinegar, and enjoy, and grill: cook on a hot grill until they just open, dip in a little melted butter, and enjoy. I learned to eat raw oysters only a few years ago, but thoroughly enjoyed them cooked by these methods. Now I like everything except oyster stew--can't get past hot milk with oysters floating in it.

I caught part of a report on NPR yesterday morning about people dying after eating raw oysters (flesh-eating bacteria--did I hear that right?) This led into a story about pasteurizing raw oysters. They are still raw, but firmer, and presumably safer. Might be just the ticket for the squeamish among us.

Wow, Dahlink. I'm going downy ocean (hon) this weekend with a mission to eat lots of fresh oysters.

Flesh eating bacteria before such a trip is like hearing about plane crashes before you are about to fly somewhere!

there are two things that i can rarely pass up when is see them on a menu: raw oysters and soft shell crabs. i've had lots of raw oysters and i've never heard of them served with hard boiled egg. it doesn't seem unappetizing to me though.

grilling them like dottie described is a fun winter activity. the best oyster condiment i've ever had was at a sound side restaurant in seattle: a sorbet like concoction of frozen champagne, red wine vinegar, pepper and shallots. melting a small dallop in the liquor kept me ordering more and more and more...

The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork

Dahlink, that has to do more with southern oysters. They kill about 16 people a year, painfully and slowly.

Up here, the water gets cold enough in the winter to kill whatever it was that causes this.

I never understood putting sauce on on an oyster, even though Courtney does it sometimes. A squeeze of fresh lemon is all they need.

There used to be a guy who walked around Cross St market selling hard boiled eggs...Everyone bought them and ate them with oysters and washed them down with beer. Been years

Thanks for the clarification, Lissa--right as always (well, almost always ...) But do we need to worry if the Bay heats up from global warming?

When Jacques Kelly wrote you back, was it in email or long hand.

I picture Jacques only corresponding in letters that are written on paper he purchased at some classic Baltimore stationary store (I couldn't think of any outside of the Crane's chain) back in 1966 with a fountain pen he bought at the old Hutzlers on Howard Steet back in 1972

lollipopgirlz, you are right, except they were deviled eggs not hard boiled. He was The Egg Man (goo goo ga joob)!


I am the Walrus

I've eaten plenty of raw oysters at Faidley's for 30+ years, and never saw anybody enjoying that combination myself. Eggs with oysters - maybe. Eggs _on_ oysters - never.
Also, Dahlink/Lissa, I believe the FDA has already issued new national regulations _banning_ the sale of raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico between the months of April and October, for this exact reason.
The regs won't take effect until 2011, but it is already a done deal. California has had a similar ban in effect since 2003.
The offender is the vibrio vulnificus bacterium, a pretty nasty bugger. It only bothers about 15-16 people a year, as Lissa said, and almost all of those folks have other serious risk factors already in effect -- but it kills about half of the people from that high-risk group.
So the classic oyster bars in NOLA (Felix's & the Acme, just to name two) along with all the others in the Gulf will either have to import their summer oysters from the Nawth (horrors!), or use pasteurized local oysters instead.
Many smaller processors or restaurants may not be able to afford the necessary pasteurizing equipment or may not be allowed to install it for space or zoning reasons. See the recent Slate article at for more info.
As someone who for many years started every Jazzfest evening with two dozen raw oysters (and a few cold Dixies) while standing at the bar at Felix's, this regulation is nothing short of criminal. Although I don't want to die from a flesh-eating bacterial infection, WTF/we've all gotta go someday - so laissez les bon temps rouler!

Thank you, Anonymous. I'd just read a few things in passing, hadn't paid much attention.

I'm a lot more laid back about things that'll kill me quickly than things that'll kill me slowly and painfully. There is a 1 in 1,000 chance that if I eat this tasty bit, I'll keel over dead? Ok, bring it on. There is a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that I'll die a lingering, painful, drooling and peeing death if I eat this delectable morsel?, thank you.

Anonymous, thanks--very good information! (It deserves to come with a name tag.) Trust Lissa to cut to the essence of the quandary.

I am from Balltimore, living in Florida now, I go to Faidleys and eat raw oysters and clams each visit to B-more. i witnessed the eating of egg on oysters, it grossed me at first, but the man beside said try it. It was very good. You get a boiled egg, an egg slicer and put a slice of egg on the oyster, very unsual but appealing cobination. Try it once. In floirida a restuarant has sushi sytle raw oysters, putting pickled ginger, soy and sesame oil on the raw oyster and green onion, very good also.

Recently went to Faidleys with friends for the first time. had the sliced egss and loved it. one of the best things i've ever eaten.

Its not unlike how caviar is served with chopped eggs and onions - the earthiness of the egg balances the brineness of the oyster - with the cocktail sauce and hot sauce in layers its a real gem. It helps on the texture front too. they serve BIG FAT oysters and its nice having something in the mouth thats not completely slimey and slippery.

i had 2 dozen that way and could eat another dozen but went on to the crabs.

Got to try everything never know what you might like. I do like green eggs and ham.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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