Anthony Bourdain I ain’t.
Seriously. I do not eat weird food just to eat weird food like he does.
For example, I saw him on TV eating deep-fried locusts…
The guy ate BUGS! and he liked them!
I have a moth fly accidentally into my mouth and I am coughing and barfing for 45 minutes and that guy eats bugs and smiles?
It’s not that I am not adventurous in my culinary endeavours. I am, but why go out of your way for just plain odd eats?
BUT, being a guy, I tend to suck it up and dig in.
I have eaten gizzards, chitterlings, raccoon, muskrat, sweetbreads, caviar, ostrich, alligator, emu, shark, lamprey, eel, ray, urchin, guinea pig, squirrel, squid, haggis, chicken feet, stewed cows head, blood sausage, lutefisk, scrapple, pickled herring, kimchii, escargots, kangaroo, turtles, frogs, horse, nutria, burgoo, pickled pigs feet, and reindeer.
Oh, and bear, mussels, camel, badger, elk, okra, moose, bison, pigeon, crow, gazelle, llama, conch, sparrow, carp, barracuda, rattlesnake, pemmican, cowboy caviar, lima beans, horse, tripe, jellyfish, beaver, green jello salad and donkey.
…and grits! I mean, really, do you eat them or wallpaper with them?
That is how I learned about oysters.
During college, I had to work during to earn extra money so that I could actually afford TO go to college. I had jobs at the college over the summer but they would just cover the bare essentials and I needed more than that.
So, I baled hay. After all, I grew up on a farm and it was not like I didn’t know how. Hot and dirty and itchy and sweaty, but, yeah, I knew how. We would bale and stack and haul off anywhere between three and five truckloads a day.
Baling hay is not the most enjoyable thing in the world but it paid. Right?
The one real compensation (besides minimum wage) was that the farmer, Jerry, fed us. Usually lunch meat and mac n’ cheese but sometimes fried chicken or pork chops. It made flogging down covered in dust and itching from bug bites almost worth it.
So, one day we got done with our baling and sat on the back of the truck waiting for lunch and cracked a few beers guaranteed to make the afternoon go faster.
“Lunch is on!” shouted Jerry.
“What is it?” asked one of the other farmhands.
“Oyster stew. I asked my wife to make it.” he answered.
Oysters? Hmmm, I hadn’t pegged Jerry for a seafood guy.
Everyone filled their bowls and sat down to eat. The stew was thick and actually pretty good. Tasted a little like venison.
And the oysters were ENORMOUS! Lightly fried and sliced. These were like the Incredible Hulk of oysters.
Curiosity got the better of me.
“Hey, Jerry. The oysters are huge. Where did you get them?” I asked.
Jerry looked at me sideways then answered.
“I caught them myself.”
“You did? Where? Maine?”
He really then looked at me like an idiot.
“They came from my farm.” Jerry slowly said.
Hmmm. Oysters in Wisconsin? Must be a freshwater mussel instead?
“Wow. What type are they?” I asked despite the silence around me.
The sturdy farmer rolled his eyes at me before he answered.
“Prairie oysters…” He looked at me waiting for the neurotransmitters to kick. “Holstein?”
“Holstein? I have never heard of those.” I was confused.
“Boy, you are an idiot.” stated Jerry. “Those oysters are special”
“You ever heard of Rocky Mountain Oysters, boy?”
“Rocky Mountain Oysters?”
Then, it hit me! Some half remembered joke from my childhood flashed forward. Jokes about parts of an animal you never wanted to have on a plate in front of you.
“I’m eating testicles?” I said slowly.
“Yup. From last spring’s steering. Kind of a test for the new boys.”
Dammit! They were delicious!
My stomach rolled. I tried not to but my mind overcame my body.
Laughter followed as I made the 100 yard dash to the trees. Fifteen minutes of puking later I made my way back to the truck.
“Is there any more beer?”
(AND, yes, I have eaten them since.)
SO, LET’S DO IT RIGHT!
Jerry’s Recipe for Rocky Mountain Oysters
1 cup lard
2 small onions
2 cups flour
3 cups wine
2 tbsps dried sage
1 stick butter
1 small bunch scallions
1/2 clove garlic
2-3 lbs. Bovine testicles
AND THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS:
If you don’t want to use testicles, replace them with a 50/50 mixture of venison and freshwater mussels.
1. Start by preheating your oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Clean the testicles and slice them into disks.
3. Mix the flour and dry spices to taste.
4. Pound the disks flat and dredge in the flour mixture.
5. Chop the onion, garlic and scallions and place in a frying pan with the butter lard. Thoroughly brown and pour into a large covered stew pan. Make sure to leave the oil and butter in the frying pan.
6. Next, place the disks of meat flat in the frying pan and brown. Make sure not to burn!
7. Place the disks and all remaining ingredients into the stew pan. Place in the oven and bake for four hours or until thick.
8. Add more wine as needed.
9. Serves 8. Make sure to have a nearby bathroom.
Copyright 2017 Micheal J. Hobbs