Cloudy With a Chance of Bull Balls. In Search of a Decent Sack Lunch.
Pretty & fluffy.
What does a guy need to do to get a sack lunch in this town? Bull balls, for whatever reason, are tricky things to pin down. Most places don’t have them and even if they do, most of the time, they aren’t any good. Odds are that your bull testicles will be battered, fried and end up tasting like a flavorless version of fried oysters (and not the Rocky Mountain variety either). Worst of all, these balls are processed and frozen until they’re rendered unrecognizable. Thin, dry and chewy, they end up more like bull ball wafers than ball sack.
In Los Angeles, just about any genre of cuisine, from Afghan to Yemenite, is available, just about every extreme delicacy is offered and almost every part of the beast is butchered, cooked and served — every part, that is, except the balls of the bull. You simply can’t get them in LA. Lamb fries (testicles), yes. Rooster fries, yes. Rocky Mountain oysters or bull balls, definitely no.
Is it because of big city snobbery? Is this town against serving something that’s popular in the “fly-over states"? I hope not. But why is it that you can get virtually all other parts of the cattle from eyeballs to tail? Hell, you can buy the bull’s penis (aka pizzle) at some grocery stores and yet its twin testes are off limits. Whose balls do I need to bust to get some answers?
Whatever the reason for the lack of sack in LA, I went far afield to find my balls in the Midwest, specifically Rapid City, South Dakota.
I’ve eaten Rocky Mountain oysters before. In fact, the delicacy was the subject of one of my first blog posts back in 2004, almost exactly five years from this posting. I had my first plate of them in Cedar City, Utah. I recall bursting with anticipation waiting for the dish to arrive. Inevitably, I'd be upset to see that they were battered, fried and flat, accompanied with shrimp cocktail sauce and ranch dressing. Those balls definitely sucked balls.
Disappointed but not discouraged, I would continue my search years later for some decent Rocky Mountain oysters while visiting some relatives in South Dakota. There I'd walk into a sports bar called Thirsty’s. The name of the place sounded promising, like a joint that would happily serve such gastro-gonads.
Fried & flat.
I spotted an appetizer named “Rocky Mountain Oysters”, but I wasn’t convinced that they were actually bull balls. So with bated breath, I asked the waitress if the item was in fact bull balls and not some cute South Dakotan slang for an onion blossom. She confirmed that they were bull testicles. Excited, I blurted out, “Oh, that’s fantastic! You’re the best! I love this place!” She then backed away from my table slowly and nervously muttered, “You’d think the guy never had decent balls in his mouth before.” I chuckled and thought to myself, “Oh, you don’t even know, sister. You don’t even know.”
But, alas, when the appetizer showed up, it looked pretty much like the frozen, processed bull balls that I had in Cedar City a half decade ago, with the flavor of a bland sliver of liver. Once again, I’d be embittered by balls, only this time in Rapid City.
I headed back to my aunt-in-law’s house feeling deflated and told her the tale of the terrible tasting testicles at Thirsty’s. After listening to my story, a look of amusement spread across her face and she said, “Listen, if you really want good bull balls, you need to come here in the spring when they’re castrating the bull calves. I’m not into that kind of thing, but if you are.”
She went on to explain how, at some of the local ranches, the cowboys would cut off the calf’s balls and give 'em a quick scrotum sear on a hot branding iron and eat 'em right then and there, straight off the brand. Suddenly, I had an epiphany and made the connection of Rocky Mountain oysters to ocean oysters so fresh you simply plucked them from the water and devoured them on the spot.
And just like that, my faith in bull balls was renewed. There was an alternative and now I’m determined to experience these balls at their best.
My flight back to LA was dreamy and smooth. I had plenty of room to stretch since the seats next to me were unoccupied. Lazily I peered out my window and watched the fluffy clouds, like heavenly pillows, happily float by without a care. Then, as my eyelids grew heavy, I gradually dozed off with visions of testicles dangling in my head.