THIS WILL confirm our telephone conversation today when I advised you that your 'turkey package' will be shipped to Washington National Airport by Allegheny Commuter Flight 619 on Tuesday, Nov. 20, arriving at the airport at 1:20 p.m.
"We sincerely hope your package will be a piece de resistance at your party!"
Indeed it was, the recipient of the "turkey package" reported.
What could be so special about turkey that would necessitate an airplane trip from the Eastern Shore? That would cause a sensation at a dinner party?
What's a "turkey package" anyhow?
The French would call the contents frivolities . If you lived out West and were talking about a bull, you might call the same part of the anatomy Rocky Moutain or prairie oysters. When they come from sheep they called lamb fries. In the Middle East they are called, curiously enough, "eggs." Down on the Eastern Shore the contents of Bette Quinn's package, are known as turkey fries.
Anatomicallly speaking, all of the euphemisms are describing the testicles. With sheep or bulls they are sliced, deep-fried and served with a cup of hot sauce. The much smaller parts of turkeys and chickens are cooked whole, though it is essential to punture them or they will explode while cooking.
Rocky Mountain or prairie oysters are a vestige of the Old West. Cowboys used to eat calf fries at branding time. they were roasted on the coals of the branding fire, salted and eaten as a snack.
Compared to turkey fries, Rocky Mountain oysters are a common dish. The latter are sold in some restaurants out West, particularly in Colorado. The only way you can get turkey fries is if you have a source. Their commercial sales are quite limited and restricted to special groups, such as hunting clubs, which serve them for special occasions.
Rooster fries aren't sold at all, though Frank Perdue, who owns Perdue chickens says for awile they were selling them in Spanish Harlem in New York. "god, they're delicious," Perdue said, although he had never eaten them until he was a grown man. "My mother would never have served us anything like that," he said.
"Can't establish a market for them," explained the quality control supervisor at Perdue. "We had 5,000 pounds frozen and a buyer who was interested in them a couple of years ago. But he lost interest. We ended up dumping them."
Bette Quinn first ate turkey fries at a pot luck wild game dinner in Wilmington, Del. She thought they tasted marvelous, and so did a lot of the guests, but not immediately. "People put signs on the dishes they brought telling what they were," Mrs. Quinn explained. "For awhile no one would touch (the turkey fries) but one someone tried them, then they were eaten. The people who brought them won first prize for having the most unusual thing."
Most Easterners who try any kind of fries do so unsuspectingly. Sometimes they won't finish when they find out what they've been eating. Like the man in story about Bruce's Bar in Severance, Colo.
"The fat man, visiting the West from New Jersey, thought they were grand. 'C'mon, now what are they really?' he asked. A Navajo Indian in the next booth chuckled softly.
"Someone let the fat man in on the joke. His fork fell to the table and the corners of his mouth dropped. His wife, on her third glass of wine, laughed."
At Bette and Bill Quinn's party on their Eastern Shore farm, the turkey fries were served with cocktails, and without explanation. But not before Mrs. Quinn met with some resistance from her maid, who helped cook them. "Mrs. Quinn, you aren't going to serve those things," she said. Assured by Betty Quinn that she was,the maid commented: "You are something. What are you going call them?"
The maid was instructed to tell the 28 guests, if asked, that the hors d'oeuvre was turkey. As they ate them up, several people asked Bette Quinn how they had been fried. "Just like I do chicken," she replied.
Well into the four pounds of turkey fries, another guest asked: What part of the turkey?"
"Turkey what?" said most of the guests in unison.
After a shocked silence, followed by laughter, 26 of the 28 guess dug back into the platter. Only two, like the fat Easterner in Bruce's Bar, were able to face them knowing what they were.
"The men," Bette Quinn said, "were more fascinated with them than the women. They wanted to know where to get them."
In the Middle East, fries are "considered a man's food," according to a Lebanon native. "They are a delicacy. It's good for a man's body, good for making love," he explained. "If you know the owner of the Calvert Cafe, Mama Ayesha, she will save lamb fries and cook them for you."
But lamb fries have a somewhat more distinctive flavor then turkey fries. The latter take on the character of the bacon grease in which they are fried. "It's difficult to describe how they taste most of the time when they're cooked in batter," said one veteran. "They have a meaty flavor, more like chicken," he noted.
Someone else thought they tasted "more like oysters . . . very rich."
However they taste, it's hard to serve them as a main course: they're too small, about the size of two or three marbles.
Whether or not fries are an aphrodisiac, there is one myth about them that needs exploding.Turkey fries are not located in the turkey's neck.