The Montana State Society’s seventh annual Rocky Mountain oyster festival is Saturday, and I’ll be honest: The event’s announcement prompted images of briny bivalves on the half shell to dance in my head.
You’ll imagine my surprise, then, when I realized that there aren’t likely to be many oysters found in the landlocked Rockies, and that these oysters are certainly not bivalves.
They’re testicles. Bull testicles, to be exact, that are sliced in half, battered in flour and deep fried. I’m told they taste vaguely of cauliflower or another mild vegetable, but not at all like meat, which is sort of what I imagined.
I’ll surmise that there are two kinds of reader out there: Those that find the idea of deep-fried testicles disgusting, and those who can’t wait to try them. For the former, I’ll point out that the Testicle Festival (that’s the event’s formal name), which will be at the Arlington American Legion from 6 to 10 p.m., also offers all-you-can-drink beer and Crown Royal for $20 ($25 at the door), the consumption of which may influence you to become a more adventurous eater.
If you’re among the latter, though, you’re probably no stranger to some of District’s other more-adventurous entrees that might make the idea of deep-fried testicle seem rather pedestrian. We thought it would be a fun exercise to review some of them.
How many of these heavy-hitters have you tried?
Cervelle de Veau au Beurre Noir at La Chaumiere
Anything sounds good in French; translated, though, this one becomes a bit more daring: calf’s brain in black butter. The rich sauce complements the brain’s deep flavor and unctuous texture; it’s a taste that’s reminiscent of sweetbreads.
Tacos de Chapulines at Oyamel
There’s no mistaking this Oaxacan delicacy for anything other than what it is: Those are grasshoppers in your taco.
Anticuchos de corazon at El Chalan
A staple of Peruvian cuisine, anticuchos de corazon — or, as the Spanish majors out there might surmise, marinated beef hearts — are typically served on skewers.
Pig’s feet at Florida Avenue Grill
A soul food classic that takes a bit of getting used to because of the layer of fatty flesh and plentiful bones — they’re feet, after all. Once you’ve forked your way inside, though, the meat is relatively mild and goes best with a splash of hot sauce.
Jellyfish salad at Joe’s Noodle House
Sliced thin, the jellyfish flesh that is popular throughout East and Southeast Asia has the feel of a noodle of unfamiliar consistency: soft and snappy.
Kitfo at various Ethiopian restaurants
If reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” convinced you to order your ground beef medium-well or perhaps even well-done, we’d advise you to stay away from this preparation, served rare or, in most cases, raw. If you don’t mind the thought of rare beef, however, this Ethiopian preparation of steak tartare is one of the District’s most enduring delicacies.
Menudo at Taqueria Distrito Federal
This Mexican breakfast favorite is a soup made using tripe and cow’s feet. It’s also a popular hangover cure that foodies search out on weekends.
You’re seeing them more and more these days as beef tongue migrates from more authentic, suburban outposts to high-traffic eateries along the prosperous 14th Street corridor, but beef tongue tacos are still something of an acquired taste to many. They look a lot more appetizing once they’re prepared than in their original, un-butchered form.
Sauteed Pig Navel at New Big Wong
You may wonder if this is simply a variant of the highly-fetishized cut of meat known as pork belly. But this is actual pig’s maw, or stomach. It has a rich, porky flavor, and it’s bathed in a black bean sauce, but there’s no escaping the chewy texture that feels decidedly digestive.