Some men would grimace at the idea of eating the testicles of an animal, but in many cultures they are considered a delicacy, an aphrodisiac and festivals are created to celebrate, prepare and feast on the coveted meat known as the testes.
Depending on where you live, eating balls may not be that uncommon. You can find them on menus in regions big on cattle ranching including Texas and in farming areas throughout North America. They can be purchased in big city specialty markets where people from foreign countries live, work, eat and shop.
In the United States they call them Rocky Mountain Oysters or Mountain Oysters, Prairie Oysters, Hog Balls, Calf Fries and Turkey Testicles. They cook and serve them battered, breaded, deep fried and pan fried, as appetizers and main course dishes as well as sliced and fried and made into a sandwich and enjoyed with a number of toppings similar to a po' boy.
They can originate from beef cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys and ducks and considering how much beef and pork is consumed in North America, half of these creatures being male, there are plenty of mountain oysters to go around.
The removal of testicles is common on farms and ranches throughout the world. One West Virginia farm owner Greg Shiley, who's family has farmed for over a hundred years, has been raised around people who harvest the testicles for the food.
Shiley said, "As long as he can remember, over 50 years, his neighbors and friends of the family have been dining on mountain oysters. These people love them and they're the first to lend a hand when it's time to for castrating livestock."
"They have the appearance of tenderized meat, like cubed-steak but when sliced they look just like pork tenderloin," Shiley said, and I would have to agree from my view of these massive balls of meat.
Paul Miller, another farmer and family friend of Shiley's told this journalist "The meat of the mountain oyster is as tender as the loin itself and tastes just as good or better. It's an acquired taste," said Paul, "but one that once you try it, you'll surely eat them a second time."
I took his word for it and chose not to try them. Shiley doesn't know what they taste like either and he has no intention of eating them but said "there will always be a market for testicles whether they originate from his livestock pens or are raised on farms around the world."
Some have said they have the consistency of liver and organ meats, and a taste similar to the sweet breads. One man said they tasted like chicken, the 'all to easy answer' when the subtle taste of a meat can be not be described in any other manner. Whether you have the balls (pun intended) to eat testicles, or not, is an entirely different matter.
The skewers on top are grilled sheep testicles, the ones on the bottom are just normal lamb.
For as many 'testicle aficionado's' that there are in the world there are almost as many chefs with their own special way of preparing and cooking the meat that originates inside the scrotum of mammals. There are even cooking shows devoted exclusively to the preparation of the testicles.
This weekend cooks will have their chance to show off their culinary skills in Serbia, where the annual 'Ball Cup' festival, will be held in the village of Ozrem. The World Championship of Cooking Aphrodisiacs and Testicles Specialties is held each year the end of August in the Serbian countryside.
Cooks from all over the world including Norway, Finland, Republic of Serpska, Macedonia, Australia, Spain, Austria, Slovenia, the USA, Canada, Hungary have entered this year's competition.
This is one of many festivals celebrating the tasty testes in the world with the United States hosting festivals from Texas and Montana to California and Wisconsin to name just a few of the larger events.
Serbia's Testicle festival organizer and author Chef Ljubomir Erovic has published the world’s first cookbook on cooking with balls. The Testicle Cookbook – Cooking With Balls includes author Ljubomir Erovic’s favourite dishes, like testicle pizza and battered testicles.
The e-book, available for download, comes with handy video guides showing the Serb peeling the skin off testicles and slicing them up into bite-size chunks.
The ingredients for his testicle pizza recipe include cheese, onion, pepper, bacon and bull’s testicles. "It’s Italian pizza with Serbian balls", explains Erovic in his video. The book also contains more cordon bleu recipes, such as calf testicles in wine and testicles with bourgignon sauce.
"The tastiest testicles in my opinion probably come from bulls, stallions or ostriches, although other people have their own favourites," he said. "All testicles can be eaten – except human, of course."
Rocky Mountain Oyster Recipe