What are Rocky Mountain Oysters

The term Rocky Mountain Oysters sounds pretty innocent when you first hear it. You've probably had oysters before and you've probably been nearby the Rocky Mountains too. Then you start to think that, "Wait, don't oysters come from salt water areas?" and then you think, "There's not any saltwater in the Rocky Mountains" then finally you get the thought, "Uh oh, what the heck am I eating here?"

Turns out, what you're eating, is actually deep fried bull testicle. Now take a moment to digest, and then ask yourself how you got here. Why do these things exist? Why do people eat them? What do rocky mountain oysters taste like?

For the backstory, ranchers would often dehorn, brand, and castrate their calves at the same time and instead of wasting these testicles, they would all get together to either grill or fry them and have themselves a little testicle festival. This was strictly an economic decision: they figured out that bull testicles were edible and decided to waste not, want not.

a nice cow

What do Rocky Mountain Oysters taste like?

These fried balls have almost a gamey taste, and some have said that they taste more like venison than anything. Others say that they taste more like calamari. Whatever you think they taste like, I recommend using a lot of batter.

Why are they called Rocky Mountain Oysters

Surprisingly, the name "bull testicles" didn't really take off. So when these were becoming prominent in the Rocky Mountain area, they took from the Canadian version of these delicacies which were called prairie oysters. In other places like Texas and Oklahoma, they're called calf fries which is very confusing because they're definitely not similar to French Fries. There are other lesser known names for them such as cowboy caviar, dusted nuts, swinging beef, and my personal favorite, Montana Tendergroins.

a plate of rocky mountain oysters

Rocky Mountain Oyster Facts

There are many other fun facts about Rocky Mountain Oysters that you probably haven't heard of, such as:

  • Castrating is a commonly used practice to control breeding. Farmers aren't openly seeking to eat calf testes, but since they are regularly available, they let the testicle festival commence.
  • Rocky Mountain Oysters are also technically healthy (?!?!?!?). They're rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • They're also not strictly a North American thing, apparently Ancient Romans thought eating fertile organs would heal ailments and they also thought eating them was an aphrodisiac.
  • If you want to eat them, you probably have to go to a testicle festival. Either that, or a hokey western restaurant, but they're also served at Colorado Rockies games

Rocky Mountain Oysters Recipe

If you can find a butcher that will actually serve you these for you to make yourself, then it's honestly not that difficult to prepare some Montana Tendergroins for your friends and family. All it takes to make a breading is some beer, flour, eggs, cornmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Then you just drop them in vegetable oil until they're golden brown. Here's a recipe if you're ready to perform this brave task, but always be sure to remember what you're really eating.

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