“They’re not really my thing,” the waiter said. He gives us this look, like we’ve requested for the kitchen staff to pre-chew our food for us. All we did was order the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
“Rocky Mountain Oysters,” a folksy culinary staple made popular by shows like Fear Factor. My only idea of these bull’s balls is that they are veiny and big and look like alien eggs. I have the image of a young woman quickly stuffing them into her mouth so she can win a small sum of money. I also imagine all the testicles that I have had in my mouth. There have been quite a few.
But what do they actually taste like? I wanted to know. The reaction we got when ordering was interesting, this sort of “I don’t eat food like that.” from our male waiter. “It’s not my favorite item on the menu,” he continued after shooting it down. “There are better things to order.” I let him know that we wanted to try them because, really, I have never chewed on some balls before. Sucked on balls? Yes. Done that. Eaten and swallowed and ingested them? Never. I’ve never had the opportunity.
The oysters were an interesting menu item, slipped in between raw oysters and grilled oysters and potentially confused for actual oysters. The R.M.O.s came fried in a heavy cornmeal batter along with a Thai inspired dressing and a very ketchupy cocktail sauce. The balls were each palm sized discs, prepared to resemble crab cakes. The idea was to mask that you are eating testicles, which is and is not a bad thing.
On the bright side, they tasted like sausage. A very chewy, rubbery sausage. It isn’t too dissimilar in flavor from lengua or any other alternative meat item you could get at a taco truck. It has a very rough texture and, like lengua, feels like you’re chewing on your own tongue. It’s an ironically hyper-masculine food: it’s all protein. There is nothing dainty or light or weightless about it. I ate two: one, gladly, the second somewhat reluctantly because the pleasure of trying something new was colliding with my taking in the manhood of an animal. The consistency and taste is also very meh. It’s mouthfeel isn’t something you want to repeat and repeat and repeat.
Should you eat testicles? Probably not. You should try them! They are worth a try. I recommend them for that. I also recommend that you don’t try them the way Madera made them: they need to be lightly fried and prepared with a creamy dip or even a tomato based something. Cocktail sauce is a funny but non-complimentary dressing to something prepared like fried calamari.
I’m very proud of myself for eating testicles, though. It was a very small way to subvert a dinner, to make a meal a bit gay. There probably will not be an artisanal revival of Rocky Mountain Oysters but, as their appearing on the menu of a cool LA restaurant proves, we shouldn’t be surprised if they pop up on more menus and in more mouths. They are something to talk about. As the waiter suggested, they aren’t that great. Then again, I have a feeling it was the restaurant’s doing. I believe that there are some balls that taste great. After all, I’ve had non-cow balls that tasted great.